Fresh.Land, the disruptor of the fruit and vegetable value chain, allows consumers in Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands, to order fruit that still hangs on the tree, directly from farmers.
According to Mathilde Jakobsen, founder of Fresh.Land, their model, “eliminates artificial ripening, cold-storage and surface treatment by bringing fruits straight from trees and fields to consumers.” This means that the organic oranges, berries and vegetables have a freshness that the supermarkets can rarely keep up with.
Mathilde Jakobsen in the field.
The founders and owners of Fresh.Land, Danish-Portuguese couple Mathilde Jakobsen and Filipe Leal developed the app to help farmers, like Filipe’s father Artur, who was growing oranges in Algarve, Portugal, to break free from the middlemen.
The freshness can be tasted
“When I picked the oranges straight from the tree at my Portuguese father-in-law's orange orchard, they had a whole different sweetness and taste to it. When I buy oranges in a Danish supermarket, I cannot recognize the taste at all,” says Jakobsen about the background for Fresh.Land's success.
The Fresh.Land concept is simple, yet effective. Consumers pre-order boxes of fruit and vegetables of their choice directly online via an app that connects them to the farmer. It is then delivered within days, complete with a date of harvest. Farmers are then paid within a week, which is unseen in the food industry, where normal payment terms are 60-180 days. The fruit available include organic and conventional seasonal fruit such as citrus, avocadoes, Eco Kumquat & Limequat, bananas and blueberries. Vegetables available include a mix of peppers, different types of tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms etc.
Besides the favourable payment terms, farmers working with Fresh.Land highlight their ability to sell all types of products (incl. ugly and different size products) as one more benefit of this novel platform.
”In a very positive way, as we can deliver directly to the families' homes and offer our products with the maximum freshness and quality and of course organic. It is also very gratifying to be able to offer combinations of products to families that are difficult to find elsewhere, and bring the taste of our country, Granada, to the homes in Denmark and in the rest of the countries that little by little are joining this community,” says Noelia, avocado grower in Granada, Spain and one of Fresh.Land’s supplying farmers since September 2020.
Business 'exploded' during Covid
Fresh.Land experienced rapid growth during the hard lockdown periods caused by the Covid pandemic. Their online model of weekly ordering and delivery of boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables to consumers in Sweden and Denmark enabled consumers to enjoy fresh produce. “It also provided a much needed income stream for especially the smaller producers as suppliers. During Covid, we were ‘the oxygen’ for many farmers facing tough times due to lockdown,” says Jakobsen.
Unlike other companies affected by dwindling sales during the harsh lockdowns, Fresh.Land Denmark’s “explosion” in growth proved to be too rapid. Jakobsen explains, that it was ‘not handled well’: “The journey to where we are today has not been easy. Recently, we have been through two challenges that we did not anticipate. As the pandemic hit, we saw sales explode and we started growing the company very fast. We went from a handful of employees to almost 50 employees during the course of a year. Unfortunately, we didn’t do a good job in managing that growth. In a way, we may have been “drowning in our own success”.
“The second challenge was a delay in our fundraising. Even though we were unprepared for both of these challenges – the fast growth and the delay in fundraising – we did learn some harsh, but valuable lessons in the process,” reflects Jakobsen.
Fresh.Land is a group of companies based in Portugal (where they started in 2015) and with a Nordic sales office in Denmark, its main consumer market, which also serves customers in Sweden and Netherlands. The German market has its own subsidiary, but has been put on hold for now.