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HappyFresh heads to Philippines

Jakarta-based, Singapore part-owned HappyFresh is to launch a Philippines online grocery service in the second quarter of 2016.

Manila is the online grocer’s fifth market in Asia, following  Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. Singapore is believed to still be on the fast-growing startup’s radar.

Isabel ‘Pao’ Barientos, former chief operating officer of online marketplace theshop.ph, will lead the Manila office as MD. Barientos has also previously worked for deal sites Ensogo and the Lazada Group.

The online grocery shopping app targets the growing Asian urban workforce, especially working mothers, who are in need of personal shoppers to deliver goods amid the region’s notorious urban traffic congestion.

“The Philippines is an exciting market because the population’s wealth is expanding and consumer spending growth will accelerate through to 2030,” said HappyFresh CEO and co-founder Markus Bihler in a statement.

In Bangkok, HappyFresh competes with supermarket chain Tesco Lotus, which has been offering a delivery service for several years already. In Jakarta, the competitor is startup Back Garlic, a meal-kit delivery service sends pre-packaged, portioned and labeled groceries in a box.

Bihler said the market for online grocery shopping in Asian countries could see double-digit growth in market turnover by 2020 to reach S$19 billion (US$13 billion) by 2020. He said the rise of a young, working-class population in urban areas is driving the market.

Working mothers outnumber all other HappyFresh customers, with dairy products such as milk and eggs among the top purchases. They are followed by young professionals and expatriates who mainly buy tomatoes, spaghetti and chicken breast.

Securing $12 million in funding as a start-up last year, led by Singapore’s Vertex Venture and Sinar Mas Digital Venture, HappyFresh partners with supermarket retailers, “particularly small and medium-sized enterprises that do not have the capacity or ability to invest in technology and reach out to new set of customers,” said Bihler.

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