Independent food company Riverford Organic, which delivers vegetables and other farm produce through its nationwide network of franchisees, claims its prices are on average 19.3 % cheaper than Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s; topping them by 8%, 18% and 32% respectively.
Further, the company claims its best value boxes outstripping the supermarket equivalent by over 40% for the second month running.
Guy Watson, Riverford’s founder, said: “We’re genuinely proud of the fact we can get good organic food to peoples’ doorsteps 20% cheaper than the supermarkets without compromising on flavour and freshness, our principles, or how we treat our growers. It’s what we set out to do more than 20 years ago, and we’re realising that vision.
”It’s always been a fundamental principle to make organic food as affordable and accessible as possible. We’re delighted our farming methods, our minimal approach to packaging (aiming to use boxes up to 10 times), and our model of regional farms to reduce food miles brings our veg in so much cheaper than the supermarket model. With a fine autumn and some bumper harvests we expect to remain very competitive.
“I’ve always hated waste – and there is an awful lot of waste in the whole supermarket model. We are sensible about specifications and don’t discriminate against a perfectly good carrot just because it’s wonky. Ultimately we’re about sound ethics, good health and great flavour rather than cosmetic perfection. Because of our approach, our farmers get a better yield out of the same area than they would if they were supplying one of the big players, which helps reduce costs, and keep prices down.”
Riverford said its figures compare favourably to a declining national trend in organic food sales. According to Kantar Worldpanel, national organic food sales were down 5.8% in the 52 weeks to May 2011, while in the year to April 2011, Riverford Organic reported sales of £39.5m – up 2.4% on the previous year.
Riverford’s managing director, Rob Haward, said: “It’s a positive time for our company, and clearly demonstrates innovation in logistics combined with strong marketing and a dedicated network of independent franchisees can drive growth – even through harsh economic times. Customers want to be reassured about value, but they also value the convenience of free delivery and the way a weekly veg box reduces supermarket trips (with all the time and unplanned spending involved).
“Customers are always telling us how unthinkingly they will throw away stuff they buy at the supermarket, but they really value what they get in the veg boxes – they never want to waste a single onion. It’s something to do with the connection they feel with the farm – and the proof of that is that more than 5,500 of them turned out for our farm Pumpkin days last weekend.”