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UK: Riverford Organic hires cooks

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

By 2007, more than 550 organic box schemes were supplying about 400,000 homes across the UK.  The recession, however, has hit this sector. Sales of organic home deliveries, including box schemes, have fallen, and some schemes are struggling. To fight the recession, one of the market leaders, Abel & Cole, has sent out a mailshot offering potential customers goods if they signed up for four weeks of boxes.

Now Riverford Organic, one of the largest box companies in the UK, plans to get to the root of the problem. Devon-based Riverford sends boxes of meat and dairy products as well as fruit and vegetables to 60,000 households nationwide. Between 2003 and 2007, its sales doubled. Then, as competition increased and the recession began to take hold, the boom was over. Guy Watson, the company’s founder and chairman,decided to visit customers. He found that many people didn’t know what to do with the produce they had ordered.

Riverford is now recruiting 100 freelance cooks from around the country to help to teach people to prepare the organic items they receive. The company has already gathered a group of 20 people, including chefs, cookery teachers and private cooks. Over the past  months, the Riverford cooks project has already been experimenting with ways to get customers more engaged in cooking with seasonal vegetables with restaurant and supper club events at which customers pay for a three or four-course meal based on Riverford produce, as well as food demonstrations and  so called chop and chat sessions. At the "lunch chain", customers cook from a vegetable box in their kitchen with the help of a chef for free and then invite friends over to sample their creations, It is hoped that some of the guests will also sign up to a box scheme.

The Times



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