Challenger to Watch: Movebutter

For building the supermarket of the future

"We're taking on the entire, ancient, trillion dollar supermarket industry," Chai Mishra, founder and CEO of Movebutter said. Movebutter intends to deliver high quality organic food from farm to fridge, to reduce waste and give more back to food producers. All while remaining profitable.

Chai Mishra is certainly not wanting when it comes to ambition.

Movebutter’s vision was inspired by Mishra’s experience while working for a direct-to-consumer coffee company in Germany. Mishra saw first hand the inefficiencies of the supply chain and the impact of middlemen on the percentage of profits returned to the producer.

In the supermarket category, for every $100 spent, just $15 goes back to the producer. Our desire for cheap food has contributed to sustaining a system that is hugely imbalanced and, based on the enormous levels of food waste, it is inefficient too.

 Founder & CEO: Chai Mishra

Founder & CEO: Chai Mishra

In a world where consumers are seeking higher quality, more ethical and sustainable products, the grocery category is slow to catch up. The supermarket system is seemingly too big or too unwilling to provide consumers with a grocery experience that meets those expectations at a reasonable price.

Whilst the typical American supermarket will stock as many as 50,000 products, Movebutter offers just 500, focussing on the key staples that a household may need, in simplified, minimalist, transparent packaging.

Slimming down the product offering and a direct-to-consumer business model are nothing new. The well-known successful challengers Warby Parker, Everlane, Dollar Shave Club and Made.com are testament to that.

What is so impressive about the way that Movebutter has brought its service to market is that the grocery category is notoriously complex; getting fresh produce to consumers is often a logistical problem, especially in a country as large as the US.

Movebutter’s products arrive at their warehouses from their producers ready to go to customers, so there are fewer processes to go through. It has worked with FedEx to create a shipping method that can get its products to 45 states across the United States and stay fresh for three days.

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Consumer demand appears to exist. A month and a half after launching, over 120,000 customers wanted to place an order from them. 

Whilst there is little public detail on its sales figures, Movebutter appears well-financed – Y Combinator, Beluga Capital and FundersClub have all invested, as have Matt Bellamy of British rock band Muse fame and a fund that has been co-founded by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.

Better stock up on the kale and ribeye steak.

2018 will be a telling year in the online grocery world as we see the Amazon-Whole Foods alliance take shape. Where Movebutter may suffer is the speed of delivery. Amazon has the ambition, scale, deep pockets and now the grocery expertise to steal share in yet another category.

However, would you trade that speed for higher quality and lower priced food, where the producer gets more for what they produce, you can reduce overall food waste and not have to make as many choices when it comes to each product you wanted to buy?

For this food nerd - yes, one hundred percent.

Strategist at eatbigfish with a full-time interest in the Arsenal and gastronomy. Ben was part of Marketing Academy's Alumni 2015.