Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Boxing Clever: Organic Deliveries Open Up a Whole New World of Taste Experiences, Writes Nicholas Clee

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Boxing Clever: Organic Deliveries Open Up a Whole New World of Taste Experiences, Writes Nicholas Clee

Article excerpt

I have done a rough comparison between the cost of the fruit and vegetables I receive each week in my organic box and the cost of non-organic items of the same produce from a greengrocer or supermarket. The organic box costs [pounds sterling]12. Non-organic produce in similar quantities would cost about [pounds sterling]7.50. At the greengrocer, I choose what I buy. In the organic box, I get what I am given. Why then am I a contented organic box subscriber? And why are they so popular that the big supermarkets are running trials for their own box schemes?

The supermarkets are already doing well with organic produce. They enjoyed about [pounds sterling]1.2bn-worth of the [pounds sterling]1.6bn sales that the Soil Association reported for organics in the UK in 2005. (That was a 30 per cent increase on the 2004 figure.) But, as the market has grown, so has awareness of the values behind organic farming.

Consumers who accept that organics are a good thing might also conclude that supermarkets--which transport products great distances, squeeze small suppliers, and squash local competition--are a bad thing. Sales of organic food through independent shops, farmers' markets and box schemes showed a year-on-year increase of 32 per cent in 2005. These sales will eat into the market share of Tesco and the rest unless they can establish green credentials.

Supermarket box schemes may not alter perceptions: consumers are likely to believe that a box from a small supplier is greener than one from Tesco. …

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