A cold but bright start, a soggy middle, and a good end; that sums up 2021 for most growers. The summer rain made it a good year for growing grass and feeding cows, but most veg farmers found the unpredictable weather challenging – and out of sight, underground, a voracious plague of wire worms added to their problems. A wonderfully dry and sunny autumn was the saving grace for many.
Over the last two months, our veg box planning team have logged feedback from both customers and growers, indulged in some pragmatic dreaming, and come up with their optimal box contents for every week of 2022.
About 95 per cent of what arrives at your door is grown to this rigorous programme, on our own farms or by growers who we’ve worked with for many years, with specifications and prices agreed well in advance. Projecting the next year’s sales, we arrive at weekly veg requirements, which are then distributed across our growers according to soil type, climate, machinery, skills, labour availability, and preferences. So, we wish you a happy new year, filled with veg; it is being planned and planted for you even now.
There is inevitably a bit of haggling, but generally this crop planning is a mutual, open, and strikingly affable process. In the past year, the prices we pay to growers have risen more than in any previous year, most significantly because of rising pay for workers in the fields (long overdue, and wholeheartedly welcomed), which typically makes up 45-55 per cent of a grower’s costs.
We take great pride in always paying our suppliers the agreed price on time, and keeping our promises, to the letter and to the spirit; something which is unheard of in our industry, where retail buyers routinely use spurious quality issues to wriggle out of contracts.
In 2021, we published our official Supplier Charter, which seeks to ensure that Riverford always lives up to our ethics in our dealings with suppliers. It is a remarkable document, which will protect our founding values long after the current team and I are gone; those with the time and interest can read it here.