Sticking to our onions

Being all things to all people is the supermarkets’ task. This time of forced change has brought us an opportunity to reflect, reinforcing our resolve to stick to what we’re good at.

On top of the usual planting, picking, packing and delivering, we have been painting lines on the floor, erecting screens between workers, training new recruits and considering our future in a changed world.

Everyone has been surprised by how capable of change we humans are; how some of the things that we thought essential are not missed, and things previously taken for granted are now so highly valued. Few think we will go back to where we were, and many (a government poll suggests 91 per cent) don’t want everything to return to normal – bar getting outside, being able to touch each other and feeling safe again.

Being all things to all people is the supermarkets’ task. This time of forced change has brought us an opportunity to reflect, reinforcing our resolve to stick to what we’re good at: delivering a curated range of seasonal organic veg and fruit, from our own fields and growers we know and trust, and helping you to enjoy them.

The tolerance most of you have shown of our reduced range has given us both breathing space and courage; thank you. We couldn’t have survived without simplifying. It was, and still is, virtually impossible for us to safely pack bespoke orders. But we don’t think anything like all of you will be happy with this forever.

Plans are evolving, but for the coming months we will continue much as we are: concentrating our efforts on keeping the boxes really good, but also adding some seasonal interest alongside to inspire your cooking.

We are introducing new products to offer you more choice, including a fruit bag, salad bag, a ‘Familiar Favourites’ veg box, fresh essentials bundles and an avocado bag. On top of this, we will champion the very best of the seasons by offering three to four seasonal stars each week that you won’t easily find elsewhere, to order alongside. Organic artichokes, Jersey Royals, berries, peaches, padron peppers, tomatillos, sweetcorn and so on.

This focused range will celebrate what has always been at the heart of Riverford and what we have always done best. It will also enable us to deliver to more people; you may notice us finally opening our doors to new customers. Our business will be simpler and leaner, which will allow us to offer good value. To get the range right, we must stick to our values but also listen to your preferences. As a sign of that, tomorrow I am going to plough in half of my cardoons and plant raspberries instead; the bloody-minded folly has gone on long enough.

11 Comments

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  1. Oh Guy, ….how I would so love to hear your personal view of the current national (and global) insanity we have allowed ourselves to participate in. And I suspect I am not alone in wishing to hear your view!
    GeryW

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    1. Hello Comments Editor

      Thanks for your reply, however am not sure how that relates to my comment above! I have huge respect for Guy’s intelligence, eloquence, insight and innate connection to our planet. His personal view of the current madness within which we find ourselves would be most interesting and welcome to hear.

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    2. ‘Guy’s Rants’ cover lots of different subjects from consumerism to climate change to everything inbetween, many of which feed into the current debates around food security and the future of farming – key issues during the pandemic. Hope you enjoy a listen, and more to come on the current situation in each weeks newsletters.

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  2. Hi Guy. Thanks for the great product and service at this challenging time. Some of us are unable to use all the producing a veg or fruit box. That’s why the opportunity to select was so important. Completely understand why you had to simplify your systems. But please move to a system that allows selection when you are able. Meanwhile thanks for the efforts of yourself and your team.

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    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your feedback on Guy’s news this week, which we will share with everyone at the farm.. If you’d like some inspiration to help you enjoy what’s in every box. Riverford are offering lots of veg help and recipes – visit livelifeontheveg.riverford.co.uk, or join their Facebook group ‘Riverford Tribe’ for support from fellow customers.

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  3. Hi Guy, I appreciate the need for you to offer a more focused range during this time to enable you to serve as many people as possible and am very happy with (and grateful for!) the fruit and veg boxes that appear on my doorstep every week. However, I’d really like to see a widening in your milk and bread ranges to help those of us with dietary restrictions. . For health reasons, I am unable to eat wheat or dairy, which on the whole means I can rarely eat bread and never dairy. However, pre-COVID era you offered a wonderful spelt sourdough along with the traditional wheat sourdough ….two loaves of this beautiful bread became part of my weekly order. It was the best thing since sliced bread if you pardon the pun! I check every week in the hope that this might be added back but have so far been disappointed.

    More recently you also offered plant-based milks in returnable glass bottles from a new supplier. These dropped off your site as soon as this crisis began and I wonder how this has affected a small business such as this. I hope they can survive as their milks were second to none and put the watery UHT offerings to shame. In my opinion, in both these cases, Riverford was offering unique products that cannot be bought in either supermarkets nor in your competitors veg box schemes (A&C). Please, please bring them back soon!

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    1. Hi Debs, I have checked with the farm and they hope to be able to offer the ReRooted almond, coconut and oat drinks further down the line. They are trialling deliveries of them again in a small area and hope to expand this if all goes well. No news currently re the bread range, so please check in with the website at a later date, contact customer services directly on 01903227227 or help@riverford.co.uk

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  4. Thank you so much for all you have done so far. You have been a life saver in these difficult times. I completely understand that you need to adapt to suit the circumstances but please do work to reinstate the self selection option as soon as you can. Like some of your other customers we are unable to consume all of the produce that you send us. For example, we have been overwhelmed by potatoes and bananas, which we eat very little of in normal circumstances. Our neighbours have benefited from some free gifts but I would prefer not to do that on a permanent basis.

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