Yu, a consumer brand that is re-imagining consumer packaged foods with their 100% natural Instant Meal Bowls, has secured US $ 1 million in its pre-Series A round. The round saw participation from Manish Choksi and Varun Vakil, part of the Asian Paints promoter group, Lalvani family, UK-based food & hospitality group; Nikhil Srivastava, head of India at PAG private equity; Vishal Sampat, Founder, Convonix, among others.
Founded by Bharat Bhalla and Varun Kapur, Yu has crafted a range of delicious Instant Meal Bowls that contain ZERO preservatives, additives, artificial flavorings, or colors. Developed using highly advanced lyophilization technology, chef-curated recipes, and 100% natural ingredients, Yu's meal bowls retain their original taste and aroma while enjoying a non-refrigerated shelf life of 12 months. All its products can be prepared in under 4 minutes by simply adding hot water with zero cooking and hassle-free preparation.
Inspired by the 2020 Nasa SpaceX mission, Yu uses advanced biochemistry processes that avoid denaturation caused by conventional dehydration and allow foods to retain their original taste, aroma, and texture upon rehydration. Importantly, non-usage of direct heat helps foods retain their nutrients making the product line healthier than conventional packaged foods. All products are prepared and packaged at Yu's fully integrated 12,000 sq ft advanced, state-of-art, commercial-scale food lab in Gurgaon, India.
Bharat Bhalla, co-founder and executive director, Yu Foodlabs, said, "We have combined the most advanced food science technology with culinary arts to re-imagine the future of packaged foods. Our Instant Meal Bowls are packed with gourmet flavors and nutrients while using ZERO preservatives or artificial ingredients. Proprietary processes have enabled us to launch our products at an attractive price point of Rs 75-100 per bowl. We are adopting an omnichannel sales strategy and in due course will be present in offline and online stores pan-India."
Varun Kapur, co-founder and executive director, Yu Foodlabs, shared his excitement on securing the seed funding, "It has been heartening to receive a very tangible vote of confidence from an eminent set of investors in our pre-launch stage. We have partnered with high pedigree investors with backgrounds in consumer brands, private equity, hospitality, technology, and digital marketing. We will use the funds to increase our production capacity to over 5 lac meal bowls per month while expanding our distribution network to key markets across India."
Yu has introduced 6 SKUs across two unique product categories, to begin with, Wholesome Pasta Bowls – Chunky Tomato, Three Cheese, Peri Peri; and Wholegrain Oat Bowls – Berry Apple Cinnamon, Banana Caramel, Peanut Butter Berry.
The product portfolio will soon see multiple additions with the introduction of dessert bowls, veg or non-veg Asian noodle bowls and superfood breakfast bowls.
Yu's products are available at 100+ retail outlets across Delhi NCR, including Reliance, Spencers, SPAR, Modern Bazar, Needs Supermarket, and an online presence on Big Basket and Swiggy. Yu's products can also be purchased by customers pan-India through Amazon, Flipkart, Cora Health, and the brand's website (www.yufoodlabs.com).
The brand aims to establish an offline presence in Mumbai MMR, East or North-East by Jan 2022, followed by all other metro cities in 9 to 12 months.