CHENNAI: In an unprecedented move, shops selling groceries and provisions were forced to shutter down last month when the state went into a strict lockdown, again. While pushcart vendors were given the much-needed push, infection-weary customers relied heavily on e-commerce for fresh produce.
What was once a touch-and-feel experience soon became a click and order affair. As we enter into another week of lockdown with a few many restrictions lifted the threat still looms large. Encouraging customers to exercise caution, Vaishali Vijaykumar brings you a round-up of eight city-based, farm-to-table stores that promise to deliver fresh produce at your doorstep.
Narendira Bharathi’s vision for Angadi is pretty simple — freshly procured veggies at an affordable cost. Started in February 2021, the online platform caters to residents in T Nagar, Saidapet, Mambalam, Mylapore, Mandaveli, Thiruvanmiyur and Teynampet. “From collaboration to delivery, I take care of everything single-handedly. Hence there’s a restriction in the number of areas we deliver to. The idea is to cut down as much cost as possible, so I had to keep my business model simple. The vegetable list is updated every day and people can place their orders the previous day. I purchase only what is required to ensure there’s no wastage or spill-over to the next day,” explains Narendira. It was the long waiting period with bigger players in the e-grocery market that prompted him to start one of his own. “I get about 15-20 orders. The profit is minimal but I’m satisfied. The delivery is done early in the morning,” he says, adding that there is a plan to expand the product list soon.
For details, call: 9840178917 or visit Instagram page: angadi_f2h
Madras Farmers started in February 2021 by Mohammed Sayeed and Ayesha Nawab is all about uplifting struggling farmers and providing them with a sustainable livelihood. “We wanted to help the farmers working at our strawberry farm in Ooty. They suffered a big loss because of the pandemic. We started on a small-scale with just strawberries, but now we offer a range of fruits like orange and berries and exotic vegetables such as brussel sprouts, herbs and broccoli. We cater to over 20-40 orders each day and patrons are intimated on Instagram when a fresh stock comes in,” says the husband-wife duo, who operate out of a small warehouse near their home in Kilpauk. They hope to rope in more farmers and expand their product list. “We believe in a healthy competition where we want to coexist with other players. If we don’t have a particular item then we would direct them to a vendor who sells it. It’s all about empowering each other in times of crisis,” says Ayesha.
They deliver across the city. Orders need to be placed a day in advance. For details, visit Instagram page: Madras Farmers
Started by three friends Elango, Mahesh and Muthiah the year-old Ekart Groceries is a one-stop shop for all your monthly provisions. Right from spices to seasonings, their online platform has an exhaustive list of products sourced from local vendors. “We have in-house delivery partners who follow safety protocols. We take the utmost care with packing. The delivery window is open all day so people will get their orders delivered the very next day or the same day. We ship to all parts of the city,” says Muthiah. Besides regular orders, the platform provides timely groceries to caterers and hospital canteens that prepare food for COVID-19 patients. “Well-wishers who want to support the underprivileged with dry ration reach out to us. So we prioritise distributing those orders as well. We’ve tied up with gated communities and supply in case of bulk orders,” adds Muthiah. They have special offers every month for their clients.
The app is available for Android and iOS users. For details, visit: ekartgroceries.com
It was the difficulty in scouting for seasonal and exotic fruits during the lockdown last year that prompted husband-wife duo Mohammed Tabrez and Tabina to explore this market. After gauging the requirements and tying up with local vendors, Mohammed started catering fruits to his immediate circle of 60-70 families. After a spike in demand, the Royapettah-based IT professional realised the scope for starting his full-time business. And that’s how T2zfruitz came into being in December 2020. “Oranges and berries were doing well in April. Since the summer season, mango has been the crowd-puller. Nuts have also been in demand due to immune-boosting properties. Every day, we update our item list on the mobile app depending on the availability of fresh produce,” says Mohammed.
They deliver across the city. Orders can be placed one day in advance. Minimum orders of `500 are accepted. For details, visit t2z.online, or call 8939006378
It’s been a dream for friends-turned-entrepreneurs Abishek Ranganathan and Dinesh Jayakumar to bring the best of their farm harvest to urban-dwellers. And it came true in March 2021 with the launch of their organic store Thottam Organic in Anna Nagar. The shop provides fresh vegetables and fruits brought from their farm in Tiruttani. The duo emphasises that new stock is bought every Wednesday and Friday. “It’s not an easy task to practise organic farming but we are particular about the quality. We’ve also tied up with organically certified skincare, A2 milk, and snack brands. Some of our best-sellers have been 21 varieties of spinach, bananas, brinjals, berries, ghee and snacks. It’s the flexible rapport with customers that has helped us build a loyal clientele in a short span. There are going to be new players now and then, but the demand for basics will never subside,” says Abishek. The duo will be introducing more of their farm-grown products soon.
A self-confessed foodie and passionate home chef, Nikkita Vibhu felt helpless when the restaurants closed down during the lockdown last summer. Her friends turned home chefs overnight to satiate their cravings. This propelled a sudden surge in the requirements of gourmet products. Tapping on this situation, Nikkita roped in popular brands and kicked off Chennai Grocers in May 2020. Located on Cathedral Road, the store has fruits, vegetables, dairy, snacks, munchies, vegan goodies, condiments and meat. “There was persistent demand for exotic ingredients. We even included baking essentials because there were so many active home bakers undertaking party orders in the lockdown. It’s evident that people don’t mind splurging to please their taste buds,” shares Nikkita.
They deliver across the city. Orders need to be placed a day in advance on their website or through WhatsApp. For details, call: 9884443064 or visit www.chennaigrocers.com
Cholayil Farm to Table
Launched just before the pandemic in 2020, Cholayil Farm to Table is a cosy grocery store in Anna Nagar. Driven by a passion to promote local produce, the shop has an elaborate list of provisions, masalas and spices, pulses, dry fruits, natural sweeteners, oil and ghee, rice and grains, pickles and jams, flour, tea, coffee, dairy, snack, ready-to-cook, cold-pressed juice and almond milk. All of them are ethically sourced from small-scale vendors, emphasises Susmera Cholayil, the owner. “We have a big farm from where we source the vegetables and fruits. We also procure avocados from Kodaikanal, grapes and passion fruit from Coonoor and food by home chefs. Our mangoes are doing extremely well in this season. Fresh harvest from the farm comes on Tuesdays and Fridays so patrons are intimated accordingly. They can either drop by or we deliver it at their doorstep,” she says.
Delivery is free within a radius of three km. Patrons can place their order on WhatsApp or through Instagram.
For details, visit Instagram: Cholayil Farm to Table, or call: 7550155005
The pandemic-induced lockdown forced R Karthik, a travel consultant, to switch careers. After the tourism industry collapsed, he was looking for alternate avenues to explore. It was the surge in demand for essentials among people that seeded the idea of starting a supermarket in July 2020. Located in Virugambakkam, Madras Basket caters to over 40 orders a day from around the city. “My wife Rajakumari and I tied up with a few vendors in Poonamallee and sourced fresh fruits and vegetables. Initially, we sold them on pushcarts and it was a hit. Upon studying the market, I realised that most people preferred their vegetables to be delivered by the first half of the morning and that’s precisely what we did. We do take orders for monthly provisions if there’s demand. But fruits and vegetables are doing well,” says Karthik. Minimum orders of `399 are expected to be placed a day in advance. The store has an in-house delivery team and has tied up with partners to ship across the city. They will be launching an app and website shortly.
For details, visit Instagram page: Madras Basket or call 9361925001