How Can We Buy Fruit and Vegetables With a Clear Consumer Conscience?
Guest Post by: Tony Berry, founding member of Organibox
That was the question three friends, were debating one day.
Sarah’s point was she hated the amount of plastic packaging that is used and she loathed unpacking her weekly shop because of it. Tony was frustrated with the lack of organic produce available from his local supermarket and Dave, who comes from a farming family, knew there had to be a better way to connect people with the produce they wanted.
A few beers later and the idea for Organibox was born.
With a wholesome skills pot blending marketing, operations and farming between them they set about building a brand that put both people and the planet front and centre.
The dream was to create a delivery box business that delivers great quality, 100% organic, seasonal produce to consumers’ homes. And within the space of a year, that dream has grown to be an independent business that now proudly delivers across the UK and is busy diversifying its product range.
Here’s how they did it…
The first step was to agree on the business’ ethos because ultimately, it’s what grounds us and is the heart of our business. We decided our ethos should be; eat well, feel good. Put simply we promise to deliver to our customers the tastiest fruit and vegetables that work in harmony with the environment.
Collectively, we believe organic farming is how it should be done because it’s better for us and better for the planet. This means that when you eat organic, you’re eating well and feeling good about your impact on the natural world.
Creating a farming family
Next, we set about building an organic farming family to work with. We wanted to work with established growers who we could trust and who were accredited with a big seal of approval from The Soil Association. Through our farming connections, we were quickly able to build a collective of farmers who could provide the finest, 100% organic produce of the season from all corners of the UK and some from further afield.
Our trusted team of growers are now very much part of the Organibox family. We work closely with these farming friends to better understand the challenges of any particular climate, season or how world events are impacting them. We are continuously educating ourselves to better prepare – so, together, we can always provide the very best of the season at a fair price to both our customers and our farmers.
The importance of taste and seasonality
We also believe food tastes better when it’s in season and reaches our customers’ homes quicker. You’ll find our produce follows the natural farming seasons of the land and we’ve worked hard to have a minimal supply chain. This means the produce in our boxes changes to reflect what should be growing at that time of year – it also means that sometimes things are missing if Mother Nature hasn’t played ball. For example, we really wanted to introduce sweetcorn into our boxes this year but UK growers have been hit hard by the dry summer and crops haven’t developed.
Freshness is also a big motivator for us. We want produce to come as directly as possible from the farmers’ fields to our customer’s front doors to ensure the best quality and the freshest produce. We’ve streamlined the distribution chain so that produce is never stored or held anywhere along the line. It comes from our farmers’ fields into the Organibox hub and then is hand packed into our boxes and delivered directly to our customers.
Delivering with minimal environmental impact
When it comes to deliveries, you’ll notice being kind to our planet is our top priority. You’ll recall Sarah’s bug bear was plastic so we knew she’d work hard to irradicate and prove to the industry that you can shop for fruit and vegetables without contributing to the plastic waste crisis in the process.
So, it’ll come as no surprise that you’ll never find plastic in our boxes. All our packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable (or better still you can compost it in your garden). Even the print that we use on our boxes has been checked for its environmental impact to ensure it won’t cause any harm. Plus, we’ve also agreed to never use air freight.
We also took the time to carefully source a delivery partner for our twice-weekly delivery slots. DHL was intentionally chosen because they have a solid customer service record and they are working hard to roll out its Green Carrier Certification programme to improve sustainability in the logistics sector.
Creating a voice
Building a brand is pretty tough, particularly in today’s climate. We knew we needed people on our side, banging our drum and helping us build brand awareness. We quickly made the decision to enlist a small family of content creators for our social channel to show people what yummy dishes can be created from the produce our farmers grow. If you head over to @organiboxUK you’ll see all their mouth-watering dishes. From spiced squash pancakes through to warming ratatouille their dish ideas are absolutely delicious and really do justice to the produce our farmers work day and night to grow.
The importance of helping customers tackle food waste
Another thing that really grates is the mounting food waste we have going on in the UK. Our reliance on use by dates has gone bonkers so saving fruit and vegetables from the bin is extremely important to us. Undoubtedly, leading the charge on this are our friends over at Kitche – a free app that targets household food waste. We decided to promote their efforts on our website so that we can share all their best hacks for using up every inch of an Organibox with our customers. After all the effort our farmers go to produce the fruit and vegetables it would be a crying shame for any of it to end up wasted. Please do go and take a look at the food waste hacks section on our website, it’s bursting with ideas from making stock, soups to utilising the nutritious pulp found in most of the produce.
We’ve always felt it was important to give back from day dot
It goes without saying that amongst world events, a plummeting pound and the fuel crisis that is an alarming number of people in the UK that are facing real hardship. It is incredibly important to us that we as a brand and group of founders give back.
We made the decision that from our very first box sale, we would donate a percentage of that sale to support the work of a charity partner. Our chosen charity is The Trussell Trust which operates the largest network of food banks in the UK, with 1,200 centres providing emergency food and practical, compassionate support to people in crisis. They think it’s simply unacceptable that we live in a society where so many people are going hungry and we agree. So, until we live in a world where everyone can eat well, we will donate 50p from every box sale to support them.
It’s still early days for Organibox as we’re just over a year into delivering our business dream. There have been lots of learnings and I’m sure many more to come. But what is clear is there is a real – pardon the pun – appetite out there for eating well and feeling great about it. So, we will continue to diversify our product ranges – we’re just finalising details for a special Christmas box delivery – shout loudly about what we’re doing and why and importantly support our farmers to farm in a way we believe to be the most sustainable.
Ultimately, by developing Organibox, we’re empowering people to consume the things they enjoy eating more consciously. And that, well that’s a great feeling, exactly what we set out to achieve and I’m proud to be part of a brand delivering on that promise.