If there's a big deal on the restaurant scene — from tech to franchising — you're likely to see Hillhouse Capital nearby. It understands that the opportunity in China is just far beyond what any other market has to offer right now.
— Jason Clampet
Meicai, a Chinese startup that helps farmers sell vegetables to restaurants, raised at least $600 million in a funding round led by Hillhouse Capital and Tiger Global Management, people familiar with the matter said.
The money will be used to expand as the startup competes for a bigger share of China’s fragmented food sourcing market, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. According to one person familiar, the company raised about $800 million at a valuation of about $7 billion. Meicai was said to be valued at about $2.8 billion pre-investment in its previous funding round in January.
Meicai, which means “beautiful vegetable,” was founded in 2014 by Liu Chuanjun, a rocket scientist who set a goal of sourcing produce for about 10 million small- and medium-sized restaurants in China. Using a smartphone app, customers can order specialties such as bok choy and Sichuan peppercorns directly from farms, disrupting traditional wholesaling by cutting out middlemen.
Cao Xue, a spokeswoman for Meicai, declined to comment on the fundraising. Tiger Global’s external public relations agency didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Hillhouse’s external spokeswoman declined to comment.
The funding round is among the largest for a Chinese startup this year. Full Truck Alliance, the country’s biggest app for Uber-like long-haul services, raised $1.9 billion in April while Pinduoduo Inc., the Chinese social e-commerce company, raised more than $1 billion in the same month before holding its initial public offering.
Beijing-based Meicai counts Genesis Capital, GGV Capital and China Media Capital among its existing investors. The funding underscores the lofty valuations that first-tier Chinese companies are still fetching, despite a slump in local equity markets and a freeze in yuan-denominated fundraising.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.