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Taking Care of Our Staff During COVID-19

Taking Care of Our Staff During COVID-19 1024 569 R&G Fresh

At R&G FRESH, we are committed to providing our employees with a workplace in which they can flourish.

We invest in their training and development so they can grow professionally. Additionally, we encourage an open and honest environment so everyone has a voice and is heard.

However, employee welfare is not just about taking care of their professional needs. We also take care of their health and well-being at all times, but more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did we support staff well-being during COVID-19?

When we first heard about the new pandemic, we reviewed our working practises to make sure they abided by the Government guidelines. More importantly, we adapted them to ensure that our staff stayed safe and healthy at all times.

Here’s how we supported staff well-being during COVID-19.

A complete risk assessment

Our first step was identifying all possible areas of risk and creating systems and procedures to safeguard against them. We looked for ways to support our employees during COVID-19 and this included ensuring that we minimised chances of virus transmission.

Social distancing

We encouraged employees who could work from home to do so until the end of August. Any non-essential visits to and from the site were put on hold.

We set up portable toilet facilities so external drivers didn’t have to enter the building. Furthermore, we held all meetings online, using Microsoft Teams.

If a meeting couldn’t be held virtually, we made sure the meeting room was well-ventilated and everyone maintained a 2-metre distance.

Monitoring and reporting symptoms

Line managers were instructed to maintain regular contact with the staff members. They were equipped with thermometers and if anyone showed any signs of COVID-19, as specified by the NHS, they were to be sent home to self-isolate until they had passed the quarantine duration or tested negative for Covid-19.

If an infection was confirmed through testing, the management team was instructed to contact the Public Health Authority and help them identify those who may have come in contact with the person.

These measures were designed to keep every one of our people safe from the infection whilst they were at work.

Increasing awareness

In order to remind people of the steps to take for their own welfare, we placed posters in strategic positions. These displayed advice for the food industry and ensured staff and visitors were aware of how to prevent infection.

For even more comprehensive awareness training, we held regular briefings to remind our employees of the importance of social distancing and hand washing.

Additionally, we ensured our staff had facilities to wash their hands with soap and water regularly. Where this was not possible, we provided hand sanitisers.

Finally, we provided them with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that was to be worn as standard, including gloves, overalls, hairnets and aprons.

Environmental hygiene

To reduce the need to touch surfaces, we left all possible doors propped open. On top of that, we increased how often frequently-touched points were cleaned and disinfected.

We also started a monthly antiviral bio-misting in all shared areas and offices in an attempt to disinfect all possible surfaces and any airborne aerosol particles.

Changes in procedures

In order to ensure a contactless way of working, we revised a number of procedures. If employees could eat in their cars at lunch, we encouraged this to avoid overpopulating the canteen. For work areas where social distancing was difficult, we re-oriented workbenches so employees could stand side by side rather than facing each other.

At the end of the day, factory staff were instructed to leave in small groups so locker rooms and exits weren’t overcrowded.

Essential boxes for our staff on site

We also took some additional employee welfare measures for COVID-19 that supported their mental health along with the physical protection we were providing.

When we entered the lockdown, the whole structure of foodservice and hospitality changed dramatically. Hospitality, in particular, was devastated by restaurants and bars being closed and events and travel being cancelled.

The wholesale markets across the UK, as well as the rest of the world, had to adapt. Due to this, New Covent Garden Market in London saw a dramatic shift in operations, with many tenants switching to deliveries direct to the public.

We are quite proud of our staff, as they worked diligently to maintain a supply of fresh herbs and ingredients to our suppliers. In order to show our appreciation for their hard work, we provided them with essential boxes of their own.

Within a week of the lockdown, all our on-site staff had received a box of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the following week, they received a box of essential grocery items, including milk, bread, eggs and butter. This continued for two months until shopping items became more accessible.

With this token of appreciation, we aimed to communicate to our staff just how much their hard work meant to the company and that their welfare mattered to us.

Whilst the lockdown has been an uncertain time, we ensured that our staff were supported throughout. When the lockdown is lifted, we plan to emerge stronger than ever and continue to deliver excellence, like we’ve been doing for over five decades.

If you’d like to learn more about the team at R&G FRESH, you can do so here. For additional information, whether about our COVID-19 measures or our fresh produce, get in touch with us.

COVID-19 Shopping Behaviours

COVID-19 Shopping Behaviours 1024 569 R&G Fresh

When the lockdown was announced, consumers had to adapt to a different way of shopping and cooking. With that in mind, we take a look at the impact COVID-19 has had on shopping behaviours so far.

Lockdown began on the 23rd March 2020 and shopping habits changed rapidly as panic buying across the country saw customers switch from fresh, to dried, frozen or ambient.

Shopping days (and time of day) changed as people were furloughed and retailers had to enforce restrictions on how many people could shop safely in store at any given time. Consumers started to shop at the start of the week and earlier in the day, which became the ‘new normal’, rather than at weekends.

During this period, customers found their inner chef and more families ate together in the evenings. People started to be more creative, using online recipes and getting inspiration via their store cupboard ingredients.

Home baking became the new trend, along with batch cooking and scratch cooking becoming more popular. These are set to continue as lockdown eases.

With this inspiration of uses, preparation of products and not wasting any leftover food, fresh-cut herbs sales saw an increase. Some of which was driven by consumers enjoying low, slow cooking for BBQ’s, making marinades, pesto and other sauces.

Although beers, wines and spirits have seen significant uplift over this period there was a particular interest in low or non-alcoholic cocktails too. These, coupled with old faithful herbs such as thyme, rosemary and bay provided a depth of flavour. Plus, by using the more fragrant herbs such as basil and mint an amazing freshness can be added to any mocktail.

Online sales crashed for several retailers during the initial months of the pandemic and convenience stores became the go-to for customers needing to pick up their local groceries where shelves were well stocked. Larger retailers struggled with demand and as we saw in the news, shelves were empty. This did increase sales, giving local stores significant growth.

As the situation eased, with more people returning to work and online slot availability considerably improved across retailers, customers continue to do one big shop a week with a small top-up from local shops.

This is starting to slow down now that more fast food outlets are starting to open and the appeal to eat out after lockdown has seen a rise in footfall to restaurants.

Traditional shopping habits are slowly returning to normal. The change, however, is gradual with online and ‘click and collect’ services having the largest growth over these unprecedented times. This is set to continue as the ‘new normal’ preferred way to shop.

Want to speak to us about stocking our fresh-cut herbs and ingredients? Please contact us for more information.

Herb Of The Month – Chives

Herb Of The Month – Chives 1500 833 R&G Fresh

Small is beautiful! The most delicate and diminutive member of the edible onion family packs a mild yet tangy punch.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives have been a staple European herb ingredient since the Middle Ages. A surprisingly versatile member of the onion family, the fine, hollow leaves grow up to 12” tall, bearing a small perennial bulb that often grows in clumps.

Chives offer a subtle onion taste, combined with the unmistakable oniony aroma. The mild flavour is reminiscent of baby spring onions or young leeks and makes chives a great additional ingredient in a variety of dishes ranging from soups and salads, to omelettes and cheeses.

Top Tip!
Chefs looking to retain the delicate onion flavour and deep green colour tend to use chives raw – or added to a dish, just before serving.

COVID-19 Secure

COVID-19 Secure 1500 833 R&G Fresh

R&G FRESH has always been committed to prioritising the health, safety and wellbeing of our team. This commitment continues with the current operating environment and taking into account the requirements relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the pandemic, we have thoroughly reviewed our working practices across the business and for all roles and taken the steps necessary to make them compatible with government guidance to ensure safe workplaces. We will continue to review the guidance provided to us as it develops over time and will make the changes and developments recommended. We are also consulting with our team and asking for feedback from them on an ongoing basis, so that they are confident that R&G FRESH is doing all it can to make their workspaces a safe and pleasant place to be.

Our Values

Our Values 1500 833 R&G Fresh

R&G FRESH places paramount importance on the quality and professionalism of both the products and the business. From selecting the best quality herbs, through to packaging and order fulfilment, the company takes great pride in what it has achieved, based on the core values detailed below.

Quality

R&G FRESH only supplies the highest quality fresh-cut culinary herbs. The company either grows the herbs or imports winter supplies from a long-standing selected supplier base, where R&G FRESH knows each supplier, performs on-site visits and insists on the highest standards of professional accreditation and worker welfare.

Consistency

From punctual and precise hassle-free order fulfilment to the consistent premium quality of the bagged product, R&G FRESH is well known for reliability and constant product excellence.

Experience

With more than half a century in the fresh-cut herb business, R&G’s customers can rest assured that their requirements are handled by one of the most experienced companies in the fresh produce industry. R&G has a broad customer base that includes national supermarket chains, major foodservice organisations, high-end restaurants and catering groups.

Technical Excellence

R&G FRESH uses state of the art packaging techniques to ensure the delivered-to order herbs arrive in peak condition. R&G FRESH was the UK’s first fresh produce supplier to use modified atmosphere packaging, micro-perforated films that allow the herbs inside to breathe, maintaining the quality and increasing the shelf life.

HEAD OFFICE

7 Chancerygate Way, Hawley Lane
Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 8FF

Tel: +44 (0)1483 474041
Fax: +44 (0)1483 476371
E-mail: info@rgfresh.co.uk

COVENT GARDEN

Stand C65 Buyers Walk, The Pavilion
New Covent Garden Market London SW8 5DZ

Tel: +44 (0)20 7720 6990
Fax: +44 (0)20 7720 6990
E-mail: info@rgfresh.co.uk

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