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Brazilian online grocer Diferente has received $3 million to expand customers’ access to healthier food

It may be inconvenient to make the weekly trip to the supermarket if you have to go a significant distance, say, an hour or more, using several buses or a ridesharing service. Diferente claims to be “the biggest subscription foodtech for fresh organic vegetables in Brazil.”

In early 2022, Eduardo Petrelli, Saulo Marti, and Paulo Monçores, the former founders of James Delivery, launched Diferente with the goal of reducing the 30% of substandard fruit that is routinely thrown away by grocery retailers.

This is made possible by the company’s direct relationships with organic farmers, which allow them to provide products for 40% off of grocery store costs. Diferente‘s unique algorithm predicts the optimal basket of fruits, veggies, and leaves, with clients able to choose the quantity. Customers may choose between weekly and bimonthly delivery schedules.

The algorithm learns from the customer’s past box contents as well as the item’s availability, seasonality, and repetition to personalise the customer’s future boxes. Farmers may use the system’s built-in intelligence to better manage their harvests in response to consumer demand.

Petrelli told TechCrunch, “Brazilians are particularly price sensitive when buying groceries,” meaning that if prices are higher than average, they will choose for the offline module.

More than 80% of Brazilian households cook at home, compared to fewer than 40% in the United States, he said, explaining why Diferente is able to build momentum with a cheap cost of client acquisition in Brazil.

Petrelli explained, “Clients here want extremely fresh items and require them on a weekly basis.” That’s why we believe our business strategy is ideal for the Latin American market.

However, unlike rivals like JOKR, the firm isn’t focusing on instantaneous delivery. Instead, it’s pursuing a different demographic of consumers who are more likely to place weekly orders for bigger carts by taking into account Brazil’s population density and the fact that families tend to be more dispersed outside of major cities.

It seems the strategy is effective. Petrelli said that Diferente, which serves 12 cities in the state of So Paulo, was already making a profit on each every purchase. In addition, according to co-founder Saulo Marti, monthly order volume has climbed from 13.8 percent to 17.2 percent over the previous 10 months, with clients purchasing 1.5 boxes at $15 per box on average.

Petrelli remarked that the numbers showed not just healthy profits and employee loyalty, but also a streamlined expansion strategy for Diferente. As Petrelli predicted, the business’s sales would increase sevenfold by the end of 2024, reaching $30 million. The company launched in 2022. To far, it has “rescued” 300,000 kg of food.

The startup has already secured $4.4 million in initial capital from investors like Caravela Capital and Collaborative Fund, and now they’re adding another $3 million from investors like South Ventures and Valor Siren Ventures. All told, this brings Diferente’s total funding to $7.4 million since its inception.

Thanks to the fresh capital, the business will be able to release its app, expand into additional product types and stock-keeping units, and launch the second phase of AI-powered personalization this year. With a current staff of75, the company plans to hire an additional 20% to 30% this year.

Diferente also intends to increase its service area for deliveries. Petrelli claims that the company’s current market size amounts to 50 million people. However, depending on the time of year, the company’s inventory might expand to as many as 170 stock keeping units (SKUs), as Marti said.

“Sixty-two percent of our customers are middle class and they aren’t being targeted for buying online as much as the higher class, so that is a unique opportunity for us to go to cities where no one is going,” Petrelli said. “We already forecasted 36 cities that we can go around São Paulo, and we are now just planning how many we’re going to acquire.”