Building the Decentralized Food System of the Future: Our Investment in Hier
The pandemic has revealed the fragility of supply chains
2021 has provided no shortage of big news stories: vaccine rollouts, an ongoing pandemic, the US transition of power, the delayed Euro 2020, Eurovision (just kidding on that one). But arguably one of the most intriguing ongoing issues affecting all of us is the enduring breakdown of our global supply chains. Just right now, the UK is facing empty supermarket shelves and a shortage of petrol. Weeks ago, a historic number of cargo ships were stuck outside LA port waiting to be unloaded. Some consumers who can’t find the products they are looking for in supermarkets have switched to dining out.
While the bottlenecks are yet to become truly severe, it has become apparent that the global trade we rely on so readily is far from infallible. This obvious threat to businesses means that there is a clear need to rethink how we source and procure products. Hier tackles just that.
In food retail, the problem is particularly pronounced
In the food industry, the opportunity is particularly ripe for the picking (pun absolutely intended). Food retail is an enormous market, extremely wasteful (estimates up to 1.6bn metric tonnes of food per year), and highly fragmented in production. There are, quite literally, millions of producers sending their products all over Europe. It is also deeply dysfunctional. Non-transparent intermediaries with asymmetric information try to optimize for their own margin. The cost of this is inefficient outcomes and - crucially - unnecessary carbon emissions from sending goods back and forth instead of producing and supplying locally.
Hier brings order into this chaos by connecting food retailers directly to local suppliers. Merchants receive the tech infrastructure you’d expect from a modern stack and suppliers can fulfill orders with as little effort as before. It is food procurement made as easy as ordering pizza.
Hier is building the decentralized food system of the future
On the consumer side, it is worth noting that almost half of supermarket customers now consciously seek out local goods. Eco-consciousness in the face of climate catastrophe has also shifted consumer choices and mindsets. This is a trend that Hier will capitalize on in the long-run. Where ordering is a great wedge into the market, the bigger opportunity lies in the future.
Once embedded in local food procurement, Hier can actually create new connections between supply and demand, increasing the share of locally produced goods that make it into supermarkets. Hier’s vision isn’t capped at ordering. It’s ultimately capped at food. What this team is trying to achieve is no less than to reinvent how and where we buy food in a way that benefits everyone, not least our planet.
An experienced team with clear product-market fit
As a closing note, it should be stressed that this is not some utopian future vision. Hier is already live and loved by supermarkets and suppliers all throughout Germany. Their user base is growing and growing fast. Lara and Mark have built one of the most coherent teams we have ever seen. There is no doubt they have a fantastic shot at achieving their ambitious goals. We are beyond excited to go on this journey with them. If you are intrigued about doing the same then check out their open positions here