Guy’s news: Redressing the balance

Despite the recent kind weather, it has been a hard year for growers – and possibly an even harder one for purveyors of veg boxes. Come snow, rain or shine, we must fill those boxes and get them delivered for a fixed price. After losing four delivery days to snow late last winter, we were already financially stretched; a wet spring then delayed planting, forcing us to rely on additional imports made expensive by a weak pound. This was closely followed by a sweltering three-month drought that led to widespread crop failures. Some sun and heat-loving crops have exceeded expectations, but to nothing like the degree that the failures fell short of them.

You are probably getting the gist of this; we are putting our prices up next month by somewhere between 1.5% and 5% (or 20p-£1) – less for the smaller boxes, more for the larger. We are not alone; under pressure from a weak pound, rising employment costs, scarcity of labour, and weather anomalies, fruit and veg prices across the UK are rising at this rate and more. It is tempting to hang on and hope that the pound will rise against the euro before the UK’s critical Hungry Gap (the late-winter time when fields are bare, before spring crops arrive); that we can claw back summer losses through our winter crops, or that we can press more out of our staff and growers by delaying pay rises and squeezing prices. But none of these options would provide a sustainable and ethically acceptable future.

We completed the elections for our first staff council last week with a 95% turnout. As an employee-owned company, we have some hard decisions to make to balance the needs of staff, suppliers, customers and the environment, while striving to make the right choices on ethical issues like packaging. We hope this modest rise will feel fair to customers, staff and growers alike.

Pumpkin Day is on the way – book your tickets now!
Pull on your wellies and join us on our farms in Hampshire (20th October), Cambridgeshire and Devon (27th October) for our annual family-friendly pumpkin celebration. To find out more and book your tickets now, head to riverford.co.uk/pumpkinday.

56 responses to “Guy’s news: Redressing the balance

  1. That price rise seems absolutely reasonable to me, and as you say, is less than the that of many foods in supermarkets. I think the Riverford boxes are wonderful, of superb quality and good value.

  2. I totally understand the need for the price rise. I choose to use Riverford for many reasons, one of them being fair prices at the Farm gate.

  3. Riverford is the only organisation that I genuinely have no doubts will not fleece or take advantage of its customers. I expect you all to make a decent living and have enough over to invest wisely (and also sleep at night – most often anyway :-)). If the prices need to go up, so be it. Thanks for all the lovely veg and friendly service btw.

    • Thank you Andrea – a fair deal for everyone is one of our guiding principles. We always try to keep any price increases to a minimum whilst ensuring our growers get a fair price, staff a fair wage and the veg boxes remain good value for customers. Delighted to hear you are enjoying the veg too!

  4. I completely agree with earlier comments, price rise seems totally reasonable to me.

  5. As a recent ‘one-off ‘buyer I was agreeably surprised to have my box delivered
    for free, and with such quality produce would not be put off with a price rise.
    Chatting to a grow- your- own neighbour ,we agreed that our fruit and veg
    cost us far more than we would pay to a supermarket, but we enjoy the effort and result.
    You folk should certainly be properly compensated.

  6. The cost of all supermarket shopping has risen sharply and just because Riverford is organic and ethical is no reason why it shouldn’t charge a fair market price, increases are inevitable.

    However, I wouldn’t say that the cost of the veg is ‘far’ more than a supermarket – and the higher cost is offset by the lack of waste as the veg are so fresh there is much less waste than with supermarket veg. All round win!

  7. I agree with all of the above. Some of your prices are significantly lower than those charged by some of the upmarket food shops in Clifton Village, Bristol, and the Riverford quality is certainly much, much higher. Your box is a weekly pleasure.

  8. Totally agree with earlier comments. I have never before felt such relief at knowing the veg I buy from you is safe, full of flavour and no waste. As for price comparisons I too am amazed at some of the prices in the supermarkets.
    I rarely step into them but when I do I feel very smug knowing the quality I get from you is so superior.
    Keep up the good work and we will support you all the way.

    • Hi Jan,
      Thank you for your support – we are really passionate about veg and its great that we have great customers like yourself who are too!

  9. I am very happy to pay more for the privilege of getting such excellent vegetables delivered to my door.
    I’m glad you are being sensible about cost as my previous box supplier went on operating at a loss until he had to close his business. Much better to put your prices up!

  10. Happy with the price increase as far better quality than the supermarket, less packaging and very cheerful delivery driver 😊

  11. Katherine Howard

    Totally agree with the above comments. I am very happy to pay a fair price for your delicious Vege and fruit. Feel safe that your products are fully organic and that livestock are cared for humanely

  12. I too am perfectly happy with the increase. The veg box delivery is a highlight of my week and I so appreciate the hard work that goes into growing the fruit and veg and delivering them to me. I also love the organic eggs. A big thank-you to you all.

  13. Happy will remain a loyal customer as I have been for 10 years

  14. I am not surprised that your prices are going up given the weather that farmers have had to endure. From reading your blogs I would be surprised if they were not to go up. I do trust Riverfords to do the best they can for everyone involved .
    Guy can you tell us what you believe to be the cause of T B in cattle , I am sure it would be of interest to many of your customers.

  15. When you say scarcity of labour dos this mean that you are not getting interest from any EU country? Just wondered what the latest is on that. Does that mean you have to sponsor them?

  16. I have been a Riverford customer for about 15 years and am very happy with the superb service and fresh very tasty produce. I fully support a price rise where necessary to continue this wonderful service.

  17. I totally agree with all the above comments.Everything will go up so why not you. If another small rise is needed please go ahead. Your veg is a delight., long may you be there.

  18. Since taking Riverford boxes, I find I spend far less than I used to in the supermarkets because I’m not being bombarded with marketing to buy things I simply don’t need. My monthly shopping bill has dropped, our disposable packaging has reduced and we are eating great tasting food so I don’t begrudge your reasonable increase and I love my weekly deliveries!

  19. Deborah Davenport

    Guy – you and your co-owners do a great job, and you can see from all the comments above how much your efforts are appreciated. Long may it continue.

  20. All been said by the good people above totally fine no problem at all happy to support whatever the decision of the wonderful Riverford Family agree upon in order to continue to happily live life on the veg thank you all.

  21. Wouldn’t do without my food from Riverford for anything

  22. I’m sure having trust in Riverford means customers accept this price rise is necessary and worth it. We would much rather get our fruit and veg ( always excellent) from an ethical source anyway. Thanks to you all for such a great product and service. Long may you last.

  23. I have no problem whatsoever with the price change. We are very happy with our boxes and will continue to order them. I feel we are eating better and saving money and the environment! It’s a no brainer! Thanks for all your hard work so far!

  24. I agree with all the worthy comments above.

  25. TRUST that is the important word between supplier and buyer. I trust Riverford, I cannot compare it with supermarket or other suppliers as I do t use them. We are an aging couple one an invalid who cannot travel far. We live in a hamlet the shop is in the next village and Riverford have always delivered. We only had one product which was not quite right in about 8 years.
    Pity other suppliers cannot attain your excellent standards.

  26. We’re happy with the price rise, but so frustrated for you guys; you really have had the worst conditions the British weather (and politics!) can throw at you.

    Really enjoying our boxes so far; the convenience, ethics and friendliness of your company coupled with how great tasting your veg is absolutely make it worth the price we pay.

  27. I agree with all the above comments. I have been a customer for about 12 years and always very happy with the box contents. I also enjoy reading Guy’s newsletter with great interest. Your price rises are very minimal anyway, and the produce is always well worth it. We don’t know much of what goes on behind the scenes, but always appreciate the “end result”.

  28. Derek Nicholls

  29. Mary-Jane Thornton

    Totally agree with all the above positive comments but add that I also deeply appreciate your efforts to keep the prices down (without hurting suppliers) and within reach of ordinary folk. Organic should be for everyone and I feel you go a long way to making that possible. Thank you.

  30. What I meant to say was – totally fair price adjustment for a terrific service.

  31. I simply love recieving my box along with the recipe suggestions.

    The taste of everything I have purchased is just so good.

    I also love inventing good that is dropped off at my door.

    It saves me time. It saves me money. Thank you for the small increase. Keep it sustainably deliverable please.

  32. Rose-Eliana Thomas

    Having “grown my own” in the past, have really been feeling for you all through each difficulty during in the past year! By the time the drought came and just kept going on and on, I knew how discouraged you would all be. As a customer for over 10 years now, I really appreciate Riverford and the values you stick to in everything you do, plus of course, the fantastic, tasty, fresh organic veg! The price rises are fair and necessary. I really would also like to be able make a donation into the business to help with the situation, and to encourage you all. How can this be done please, and I wonder if there are other customers who would like to do the same?

  33. Hi Guy(s)!
    I don’t think I’m aware of any other company that is as transparent and considerate in both action and philosophy as you are. Your weekly rant is just as nourishing and valuable as your food and I’m proud to be part of what feels like family or tribe.
    You are the stubborn seed that grows however harsh the conditions may sometimes seem!
    Thank you!

  34. You have had a hard year on many fronts, we have received regular tasty boxes. It is only right we share in the risks that you face from seed to delivery. Your price rise is very reasonable. I trust it brings more security in these pre-Brexit times and you are able to continue with your most welcome deliveries

  35. No problem …I’m aiming to get 70% of my shop through you…your recipe boxes are brilliant …not having to shop for ingredients means less time at supermarket buying unecessary crud…

  36. Every time I go shopping, I see prices have increased and to many, this must seem alarming.
    But your price increases are very modest and the pleasure you give us in finding out what’s coming every week, then receiving such wonderful produce and using it, more than compensates for these.
    P.S And I do love reading Guy’s rants!!

  37. Your delicious fresh veg and fruit and your great service is totally worth what you’re charging for. If you improve your packaging a bit more, I’m a 100% happy customer and more than happy to pay the small rise.

  38. I fully understand the cost pressures and the huge challenges this year. Home delivery is a relatively inefficient and costly way of distributing produce and facilitating choice – is there any chance of setting up a shop for us in East Midlands as you have in Devon near Totnes at your HQ? Oundle for example has loads of empty shops and a huge captive audience of typical customers. There’s even a restaurant where they discount food in exchange for excess garden produce and game! A shop along the same lines would be great as my box sometimes duplicates what’s in my scruffy veg patch.
    I appreciate my box delivery but wonder how sustainable it is and would appreciate having the option of buying direct when I choose and what I choose
    Thanks anyway to all involved

  39. Guy – I agree with many of your other Vege Boxers that this rise in price is perfectly reasonable. I would like to switch to a Medium Box without potatoes. As Ben’s shop (Riverford Farm Shop) is just up the road, I can easily pop up there to top up with anything I need, usually meat and Classic Muesli and Ecover refills!

    Many thanks for evernthing.

  40. There are 2 or 3 questions raised which Riverford has not yet responded to coming in before mine EU labour ; TB and setting up a local shop up north (Margaret Jeni and Gill) – is this because they need more thought or because they are not relevant to this thread?
    And yes of course I completely understand the need to raise prices and was expecting something like this at some point!

  41. What does Riverford mean to me?
    Reliability
    Ingenuity
    vegetables
    energy
    resourcfulness
    fairness
    ordering is easy
    Richness of taste
    dependable

  42. A price rise fine by me – for the many reasons already so beautifully articulated. We order regularly and I much appreciate having the option to choose our combination of items, whether a box, or individual items, or a combination of these, provided we reach a certain level of cost.

    • Joao Carlos Cabral

      Hi
      Totally agree with all the above positives comments.
      Your great service deserve what you are charging for.
      Love your vegetables box
      Many thanks

  43. I fully agree with your policy. This will help keep the excellent boxes which I rely on continuing to arrive regularly, and I hope give more stability to your growers too.

  44. Fine by us; we are 100% happy, thanks

  45. If such a hard working , enthusiastic and dedicated bunch of “proper farmers” c
    don’t deserve a modest pay rise who on the planet does? We would never ever stop our Thursday Box on the basis of a price rise. We love and trust the quality. My wife enjoys the ‘challenge’ of her “Ready Steady Cook” moment when the box arrives. Everything about your service and products are fantastic as far as we are concerned. Your resilience is amazing. We have been regular customers for more than 15 years and look forward to a lot more

  46. The account is in My wife’s name Genevieve, but she leaves the online bit to me !

  47. I totally agree with the many positive comments and the price rises seem fair and reasonable for such quality produce ……… AND I have free home delivery, really tasty recipe suggestions and Guy’s always informative newsletters. Thankyou all!!

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