New Delhi: Want to buy quality fruits and vegetables at affordable rates? Reach for your smartphone. Online grocers such as BigBasket and Grofers have bucked the trend and kept prices down, while their brick-and-mortar rivals have raised prices of fresh produce. For instance, a kg of onions on BigBasket in the capital is selling for Rs 16 and Rs 18 on Grofers , while a neighbourhood grocer in South Delhi is selling the same produce for Rs 32.
In fact, the online prices compare with Rs 17 a kg at Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets. For some products such as tomatoes, prices are marginally lower if bought online.
But if you want an even better bargain, you can slip into the dusty lanes of Govindpuri in South Delhi or a similar neighbourhood where rows of street vendors sell fresh produce for a steal. Hybrid tomatoes, for instance, are selling on Big Basket in Delhi for Rs 55 a kg, at a grocery for Rs 70 and Govindpuri for Rs 40.
“Wholesale veggie prices in the market have suddenly soared but we have managed to keep them low through forward buying,” said Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder, Grofers. “Bulk buying helps control prices.”
Asked about the cheaper rates at street vendors, Dhindsa said he wasn’t sure about quality. “Go to a Gurgaon market, you get tomatoes sourced from Haryana. They are big but not very juicy,” he said. “We source tomatoes from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur belt.They are smaller and juicier. These sometimes cost us a tad more. The government doesn’t allow sale of mangoes ripened with carbide. I’m not sure about the ones that you get at a street vendor’s.”
Fruits and veggies prices, even online , vary across states. A kg of chillies, bought online , costs around Rs 89 in Delhi, Rs 85 in Kolkata, Rs 100 in Bengaluru and Rs 160 in Mumbai.
Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO at BigBasket, says he hopes the price fluctuations will soon settle down. “This year, rains are supposed to be good. That will bring price stability. Most of the escalations are manmade because middlemen tend to hoard. We try to cut that out, sourcing directly from farmers,” he said.
“In the next few months around 80% of our fruits and veggies will be sourced directly. Compared to 3%-7% that fruits and veggies contribute to a modern trade store’s overall business, their contribution to our business is hovering at around 18%.”