New Year Update 2020 03/01/2020, Info
2019 was another productive year for the team at fresh-range. We’ve brought to life innovation in the way we fulfil food from sustainable producers on short, fast and light supply chains and improved efficiency in so doing. This may not have been visible to all but, for us, it’s meant stronger performance on complete orders, mileage per ton fulfilled, on-time deliveries, billing and more secure digital payments with the integration of 2 factor authentication (something that will become mandatory for all retailers to adopt in the coming year or so).
In May, we launched Farm Wilder beef and lamb on the fresh-range store. I am so enthusiastic about the fast progress founder Tim Martin and his talented sidekick Luke Dale Harris have achieved with this project. With 15,000 acres of land now being managed to the highest environmental standards to bring back endangered biodiversity and accelerate the sequestration of carbon by converting all farms to 100% pasture fed over 3 years and planting trees on the farmland. It’s a terrific initiative that I encourage all of our omnivorous customers to support.
During the summer we started serving customers across the whole of England and Wales via new external delivery partners. We’ve had to tweak the range a bit to make that work but we’re pleased to see that business growing steadily even before we’ve even formally launched it (that’s planned in early 2020).
In September we launched a specially curated store packed full of sustainable produce for use by staff, academics and post grads at the University of Bristol. It’s been exciting to see the adoption of sustainable food and drink from all departments in the university.
In November, we co-led the third in a series of conferences on sustainable food procurement. This year our conference, held at City Hall, attracted over 100 delegates predominantly from the public sector and focused specifically on the role of procurers at delivering a step change in the food they source to address the climate and biodiversity crisis.
And, there is no doubt that 2019 was a turning point in the ethical food space. The increased awareness of food’s role in the climate and biodiversity crisis appears to have led to a change in consumer behaviour. Fresh-range is still a young business – we turned 5 this year – and so we’d expect to be on a steep upward growth curve anyway. But, in 2019 something changed. We’ve seen a significant acceleration in our growth in the first three quarters of 2019 versus the same period year ago. This isn’t due to brilliant marketing or a concerted advertising campaign – we’ve invested hardly anything in ad spend since we launched. It’s clear that more and more people are putting their money where their ethics are. Customers still seek the convenience of online ordering with home delivery but it’s clear that people are falling in love with fresher produce, sourced with care. They’re looking for freshly picked organic veg, high welfare sustainably reared meat, dairy and eggs, ethical sourcing on store cupboard items and more small-scale producers instead of the dull, unhealthy mass-produced ultra-processed food available elsewhere. They are seeking transparency in the supply chain with clear provenance on the food they are selecting.
In the first half of 2019, as well as more new public sector buyers choosing fresh-range as their procurement platform, we’ve seen new home delivery customer acquisition increase by 26% and, more importantly, we’ve retained more happy customers who are shopping more frequently and are spending at higher levels per shop with dozens of farmers, makers and bakers than in previous years (indicating a shift in customer grocery spend away from the mass retailers). The combination of these business drivers resulted in a 58% organic increase in like for like sales for the fresh-range retail West of England home delivery store for the first 3 quarters of 2019 versus the same period year ago.
In 2020, we will continue to build on strong organic growth in the retail home delivery space by launching an awareness campaign around some of our most sustainable producers designed to engage ethical consumers in more cities across the UK. We will support our current B2B customers such as universities and schools with a greater range of sustainable produce and we plan to scale up our infrastructure to deliver more short supply chains from sustainable producers to each of the public sectors (NHS, Ministries of Defence and Justice, Education) across more regions across the UK. We will share updates on that as we go.
Finally, please look out for our weekly new year mailing sharing inspiration for how to integrate more delicious, healthy, sustainable produce into your diet in 2020 via our recipe collections.
I thank you for all of the support you’ve given us and more importantly the sustainable producers fulfilling your food and drink in 2019. I wish you a happy and healthy 2020.