FOOD FOR ALL

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

With equality, inclusivity, and sustainability at the heart of its operations, Direct Fresh has its vision set on ensuring food accessibility across all echelons of society.


 

Direct Fresh is a vertically integrated food service provider based in Bangladesh. The company started its journey in 2013 with the vision of revolutionising and disrupting the supply chain of fresh, organically grown produce through innovation and creative market solutions. The core value of Direct Fresh is to ensure equal accessibility to reasonably priced, high-quality food at every level of the socioeconomic pyramid. In pursuit of its commitment to making the food sector sustainable and inclusive, Direct Fresh has enriched the lives of all its stakeholders – businesses, retailers, consumers, workers, farmers and refugees.

 

 

CLOSING THE FOOD GAP

In its initial stages of operations, Direct Fresh catered to the premium segment of the food industry in Bangladesh. The company imported fresh and packaged goods and operated online on e-commerce platforms. However, after the heinous July 2016 terrorist attack in Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery, several expatriates, many of whom comprised a large segment of Direct Fresh’s consumer base, left the country. The company’s unfaltering commitment to continue supplying quality produce led them to explore a different avenue – a farm-to-table concept in Bangladesh.

Like Direct Fresh, consumers were frustrated and concerned at the lack of quality and regulation in the grocery market. Malpractice of adulterations and unregulated levels of pesticides on perishable items meant consumers were never getting a fair price on fresh produce. To address this concern, Direct Fresh collaborated with Danida, Swisscontact, and a few other NGOs to work closely with farmers. Farmers – the hardest workers in this production cycle, have always been disproportionately and unfairly underpaid for their toil and labour. Direct Fresh created a platform for these farmers to sell their products at a reasonable price, empowering them to avail a just market value. The company’s inclusive initiatives have since expanded to the disadvantaged Rohingya refugees and RMG factory workers.

FOOD FOR THE DISADVANTAGED

Direct Fresh has partnered with the World Food Programme to provide food at Rohingya refugee camps in the Ukhiya Upazila through fair-price shops. The initiative is supported by the United Nations as well as other donor agencies and their collective efforts have given more than 47,000 Rohingya families access to good quality food. Every single food item must meet extremely stringent standards – from the size of cauliflowers to the colour of their leaves, and the moisture content of rice grains – all food items have to pass through a quality control check to ensure the health and safety of the camp residents.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, Direct Fresh worked with UNDP to provide food to the literal last mile. Travelling to the last end of Bandarban, and the most remote destinations in Khagrachari and Rangamati, Direct Fresh supplied food to almost 110,000 families.

 

 

FOOD ON CREDIT

There are around four thousand garment factories in Bangladesh employing five million people, the majority of whom are working round the clock to make ends meet. With less than minutes to spare during work hours, and attending to domestic responsibilities on limited, often, deficit budgets, RMG workers, the backbone of the largest industry in Bangladesh, deserve a sustainable solution to put food on the table. Direct Fresh, under its Food for Life initiative, offers such a solution called Amar Dokan that allows RMG factory workers to purchase food on credit from outlets located directly on factory premises.

Products at Amar Dokan are priced at 7% to 10% lower than the local market. Direct Fresh is able to offer this price benefit through arbitrage techniques utilising its large-scale product procurement process. Based on a tri-party agreement signed between Direct Fresh, the RMG company, and the RMG employee, credits are rolled out each month, and are integrated into the employee’s ID. All transactions are updated in a system that keeps track of the credit limit, current balance, and purchase history, inventory among others.

Amar Dokan is an ingenious solution that has the potential to alleviate a complex social problem. In the last 3 months, 2 shops of Amar Dokan were inaugurated. In the coming year, 17 more are expected to start operations.

 

“We are catering to a group of people who have so far been underserved; who have never been given proper customer service, let alone the courtesy they deserve. The excitement we see in the faces of our customers at Amar Dokan – it’s a feel-good experience for us.”
~Estemdad Haider, Director and CEO, Direct Fresh

 

RIGHT STANDARD, RIGHT PRICE

Hotel chains and restaurants whose brand image is associated with high-quality food and hospitality trust Direct Fresh for their produce. In addition to providing the best raw ingredients to high-end cafes and restaurants, the likes of North End, Pizza Hut, KFC, Chows, El Patron and Delifrance to name a few, Direct Fresh ensures these companies don’t fall victim to supply chain disruptions. By working directly with contract farming groups and communities and trusted wholesale suppliers, Direct Fresh sources food items from the best the country has to offer. Processing is done in warehouses that are HACCP certified, which gives the company critical control points to maintain a high level of quality.

 

“Quality food should be an equally accessible commodity – it can’t be costlier for the less advantaged. Nutrition needs to come to everyone at a reasonable, affordable price.”
~Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq, Director and CMO, Direct Fresh & Group COO, Agile Minds Group

 

THE ROAD AHEAD

We, as citizens of this country, and residents of this planet must respect the right of every demographic to food security. The innovative solutions developed by Direct Fresh are the first of many steps taken toward an inclusive future where everyone, regardless of socioeconomic wealth, status and symbol, has equal access to this basic human right.

 

Photographs by Direct Fresh

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
On Key

Related Posts

FIST FULL OF DREAMS

The story of Joy Barua Lablu, a 21-year-old tech innovator who founded Robolife Technologies to build robotic prosthetic arms for the general public.   The

FOOD FOR ALL

With equality, inclusivity, and sustainability at the heart of its operations, Direct Fresh has its vision set on ensuring food accessibility across all echelons of

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.