Make migrants happy with local food

Hamburg A sign that a market is becoming mature is: New providers appear who are looking for niches. The time has come even in the still young area of ​​same-day delivery supermarkets. The Berlin-based supplier Yababa, which specializes in Turkish and Arabian food, reports start-up financing of around 13.7 million euros. Behind it is an experienced founder: Ralph Hage, who comes from Lebanon.

So Hage knows the market. He wants to use his knowledge to be successful in the niche. “In the past two years, several vendors have discovered the online grocery market. But they all gear their range to the mass tastes of Germans, ”says Hage. The Turkish supermarkets in Germany alone made five billion euros in sales, he calculates.

Nevertheless, there are pitfalls: Yababa has to be able to target these communities with its marketing. Hage therefore wants to fill as high a proportion of the positions as possible with people with a migration background – including the drivers who are employed by a service provider.

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In addition, migrants are on average less solvent than the average population, so they could react cautiously to delivery costs.

However, Hage wants to make the price an advantage over other suppliers: There, Arab food is only a marginal range of German low-cost brands in the range and is correspondingly expensive, he says. Yababa, on the other hand, like a neighborhood shop, offers the cheaper imported brands that many people know from their homeland. So far, the 33-year-old has been purchasing goods from wholesalers. When Yababa gets bigger, he wants to expand the range with direct imports.

“Worth a try”

Yababa’s first venture investor was Foodlabs a few months ago. The Berliners had previously pushed the Gorillas express delivery service. With the fresh venture capital that early-stage investors Project A and Creandum, among others, are injecting, Hage is now planning rapid growth. It is not a sure-fire success. E-commerce professor Gerrit Heinemann warns that it is still unclear whether the grocery delivery services can become profitable at all. “It’s worth a try,” he says – especially since Yababa can clearly distinguish itself.

He expects the online food market to differentiate itself as well as the offline world with its specialized offers, explained Creandum partner Peter Specht.

In 2022, Yababa is to supply six other cities in Germany, Benelux, France and Great Britain in addition to Berlin – each with its own warehouse and delivery vehicle. The model is more reminiscent of providers such as Knuspr and Bringmeister, who deliver within a few hours, than of super-fast services such as Gorillas or Flink.

An international model for Yababa is a delivery service aimed at overseas Chinese: Hungry Panda from Great Britain has already received 90 million dollars from investors such as Kinnevik and Burda, according to the news portal “Crunchbase”, and is expanding into Europe and the USA. However, the service relies more on restaurants.

Hage thinks that all cities with sufficiently large immigrant communities are attractive. In Germany there are ten cities in perspective, he says. However, his vision encompasses all of Europe, with 80 promising cities – and beyond. He wants to develop adapted product ranges, for example for the larger Indian and Pakistani neighborhoods in Great Britain.

In a few years, a large provider should have emerged that could also survive on the stock exchange, Hage formulated as a long-term goal. But there is still a long way to go: According to Hages, Yababa has only had just under 30 employees. The money from the current seed financing should last nine to twelve months, then the first growth round would be due.

“Many people have the strongest connection to their homeland, including me,” says Hage, who misses olive oil and spice brands from his native country in Berlin.

More: The boom in delivery services is bypassing many customers

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