Abundance Galore!

Felicity

Part of our desire to establish Trove is to enable more people to be connected to the marvellous local independent food suppliers up and down the country on a more frequent basis. There are over 5,400 butchers, 4,000 farm shops, 2,400 greengrocers, 4,500 bakeries and 950 fishmongers in the UK not to forget over 8,000 dairies.  That is a whole lot of knowledge, product, and variety to explore. 

We knew from being customers ourselves that these retailers stock an extensive range of food items that are not always easy to find in a mainstream supermarket. But even we were taken by surprise when our very first supplier, Hook Norton Butchers, had over 900 product items alone!  It was an exciting moment for us and reinforced why we have set up this business – there is abundance on our doorsteps! Just two of our initial suppliers combined will offer 47 different types of cheese and pretty much every type of deli product you could imagine, all this in addition to your regular meat, veg, fruit, and bakery items. Local food retailers are entrepreneurs in the community who inject a passion into their businesses and bring delight to customers with phenomenal product! 

Abundance of good quality and accessible food from local independent retailers is closer than you think, and Trove is here to help you unlock the goodies within! So, before you head to the supermarket, check out your local food retailers first…


The Great British Apple

Felicity

We were sad to learn that since the 1950s over half of English orchards have been abandoned by British producers, as cheaper imports filled our shops based solely on price.  Whilst many orchards have been pulled up, things may be changing due to an unexpected twist.  Brexit has changed may aspects of food production, raising concerns over access to seasonal workers, but also refocussing shoppers on homegrown products rather than relying on imports. 

There are a phenomenal number of apple varieties in Britain, 2,200 plus in fact!  Yet just two varieties – Gala and Braeburn – account for almost half of all sales across UK outlets.  Supermarkets are the dominant place of sale with about 85% market share. The focus appears to be more about shelf life and appearance rather than flavour and taste, which means they have lost sight of seasonality with more focus on strict size, colour and surface characteristics. 

 

At trove we champion the astonishing range of apples and we encourage consumers to embrace the scrumptious varieties on our doorstep.  Let’s not shy away from the imperfections of our glorious fruits but embrace their unique differences and get ready to explode our taste buds!  As the age old saying goes: “variety is the spice of life”, so let’s start with a humble apple… 

 


Why Trove is not "on-demand" delivery

Felicity

There has been much hype around the rise of the “on-demand” economy. Amazon was the first mover in enabling people to order an item and receive it the next day and often free of charge. People have come to expect their every need can be delivered, often now within minutes, of placing an order. The convenience is undoubtable, but is this type of instant gratification supporting the collective desire to also save our planet by reducing carbon emissions and making conscious choices over our consumption?

 

Having established in consumers’ minds that we can now “have what we want when we want”, we have seen the rise of on-demand food delivery companies. This model makes sense for restaurants and take-aways where people are making a spontaneous decision to order take-away food. Consumers are willing to pay the significant mark up of 20-40% over the restaurant list price, plus a delivery fee, for the convenience of having the food picked up on their behalf and delivered to their door.

 

This model is rapidly creeping into the grocery market too. New delivery services are springing up through partnerships with supermarkets/convenience shops or by setting up dark stores to manage the supply chain directly. These businesses are playing into this consumer conscious that anything can be available immediately at a price, but is the price just financial or is it environmental?

Photo by Marcus Chis

At Trove we have reservations about this model in creating a sustainable grocery market. We are driven by a desire to enable more people to access high quality, fresh local foods from the fantastic local independent shops across our high streets. We are not cutting out these suppliers, we are driven to help them do what they do best – supply quality produce.  Our customers are people who care about the provenance of their food, plan their food orders and are loyal to their local suppliers.

 

The “on-demand” model has been built on the flexibility of gig economy workers.  We are very happy to see that there have been positive moves to see gig drivers treated as employees, with rights to pensions, holiday and sick pay. However, there remains significant job insecurity and high competition to be the quickest to pick up a job. Our employed drivers are absolutely crucial to our success. They are the regular, trusted face, that both our suppliers and customers get to know. Our drivers form an essential part of the experience of shopping with Trove, they are an extension of the fantastic local suppliers we work with. Trove drivers are employed directly and are guaranteed to be paid, we want them to be happy and proud to represent Trove. We know their true value.

At Trove it is in our culture to treat all our staff, suppliers and customers with respect and integrity. We are not trying to build a “fast” business. Our plans are long term, we see Trove as being part of the grocery sector’s infrastructure, where our collective network and centralised platform supports existing and new independent businesses to thrive.


The food chain's plastic dilemma

The food chain's plastic dilemma

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There is so much to talk about with plastic! It is a topic that has been receiving much needed attention, particularly highlighted in the public mind through David Attenborough’s spotlight on the lasting impact of plastics.

 

Many plastics do not decompose which means they can last centuries in landfill or worse still, end up in the natural environment where we see the devastating impact on the creatures that inhabit them. As plastics degrade overtime they turn into ‘microplastics’ which are pieces of plastic smaller than 5 millimetres. It then fragments down into the even smaller ‘nanoplastics’ – these are no longer visible to the naked eye. This means that plastic is everywhere – from the food we eat, to the water we drink to the air that we breathe

At trove we work to understand the use of plastics across the food supply chain and working with our supplier partners on how each individual business can help to address the challenge. We believe in the power of the collective to make change. Trove are proud to represent SME food retailer businesses, but we also know it can be overwhelming for them to keep up with the regulations and standards that are coming out. These are great commitments to make, but big business will always have an advantage because they can hire in specialist teams to work specifically on sustainability strategies to meet these goals. At Trove we provide that central support to our independent businesses. We keep up to date with the standards and expectations of businesses and we provide our partners with the tools to contribute to these ambition climate change targets.

 

One of the biggest areas to tackle is food packaging. It is estimated that the FIVE MILLION TONNES of plastic is used every year which is the equivalent of 50,000 passenger aeroplanes! Of which nearly HALF is in the form of packaging, yet only 9% of plastics have been recycled. In the food industry we know that plastic has had advantages including contributing to food safety and hygiene. It has also helped reduce packaging weight in transit and thereby reducing energy and emissions that would be generated by using alternative materials. However, it is clear that with the filtration of plastics into the environment, and micro and nano plastics getting into the food chain, that we need to find alternatives. We will be regularly updating our blog as we go through our journey to ideally remove the use of plastics across our food chain….

https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/plastic-packaging/the-uk-plastics-pact


Delving into food waste

Felicity

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According to the United Nations around a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. In the UK food worth over £20 billion a year is wasted.  The impacts of this are felt across society, our economies and most of all its adverse environmental impacts. Food that ends up in landfill releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over time, making it a significant contributor to climate change.   

At trove we are creating a business with sustainability and social impact at our core.  We are strong advocates of the UN Sustainable Development goal 12: to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.  To date there has been a focus on working with larger retailers to adopt a “target, measure and act” approach.  Trove aims to promote these advances across our Partner network of SME food businesses. 

We feel passionately about understanding local food supply chains with a focus on how we can contribute to the prevention of food surplus and moreover waste being generated in the first place.  Our customers can use trove to easily shop locally and access the best fresh seasonal produce.  It is our ambition to integrate advanced AI menu planning which will enable customers to easily plan meals and create a precise shopping list of items. Shopping locally and buying only what you need will have a huge positive impact on sustainability goals. 

 

Trove will introduce a food waste scheme with our retail partners with the aim of redistributing surplus food.  There are some brilliant organisations such as Olio and Too Good To Go which trove support.  We see it as our responsibility to engaging our consumers and helping them make better shopping decisions to reduce food waste.  Together we can make a huge difference.