Fresh City secures funds from impact investors

Farm and retail operation will expand its services and scale sustainable food options

Fresh City is getting a capital boost from impact investors.

The Toronto-based urban farm and omni-channel retailer announced it was receiving funding from Telus Pollinator Fund, along with support from Good & Well, Dragonfly Ventures, Bennett Church Hill Capital, and other private investors.

The funding will help Fresh City expand its services to include faster delivery, an improved online experience, and wider product assortment. It will also enable Fresh City to build out a new 11-acre urban farm in Toronto near Downsview Park, expanding on its current farm operation in that location and adding events and programming.

Founded in 2011 as a city farm that delivers local and organic produce, Fresh City has had a focus on impact since day one. “We were trying to push the food system towards a more sustainable place, with more seasonal and organic sourcing, so it’s in our DNA in a way,” said Ran Goel, Fresh City founder and CEO, in an interview with Canadian Grocer.

Fast forward to the time of COVID (and Fresh City’s growth to eight locations under three banners and expanded e-commerce offering). “As we went through COVID, we realized there’s a big opportunity in online [grocery] right now,” said Goel. At the same time, “as a result of the pandemic, people are much more conscious about where their food comes from. So, we saw all these trends that we’ve already been on top of for many years now, but we saw an opportunity to scale.”

With that, Goel looked for investors who believed in Fresh City’s path and vision of “a better life through food.” While terms of the investment deals are confidential, Goel said, “We were just very happy to go to market, tell our story, and end up with such an awesome group of investors around the table.”

According to Telus, the Telus Pollinator Fund for Good is one of the largest global corporate impact funds focusing its investments on for-profit companies and founders committed to driving social innovation. Its mandate is to leverage the power of technology to support environmental, agricultural and community-minded businesses.

“With the strong underlying growth in demand for organic and healthy food across Canada and the U.S., we saw an opportunity to support grocers that are providing access to local and healthy food at scale through strong business operations and innovative delivery models,” said Blair Miller, managing partner, Telus Pollinator Fund for Good, in a news release.

“Our investment in Fresh City was further solidified by the united vision of our companies to support the resilience of local food systems and increasing food security because we strongly believe that increasing access to healthy food will lead to healthier communities.”

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