Environmental

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What We Look For When Choosing Suppliers

What We Look For When Choosing Suppliers 1024 569 R&G Fresh

It’s one thing to say that we pride ourselves on the quality of the produce we supply. (And we really do!).

But we’re also so proud of the way we work, so thought it was about time we gave more context on what that actually means.

In this post, we pull back the curtain to give you more detail on what we look for when choosing fresh herb suppliers, and how that impacts the produce you buy and use.

Picking our pickers

From the farmer’s field to your chopping board, our freshly-cut herbs go on quite a journey before they make it into your menu. But before a single ingredient can be selected, we first need to pick the people who grow them.

At R&G FRESH, we scour the globe using five key criteria – all to bring you the best possible produce, from the most ethical and passionate people in our field.

Security of supply

Between weather patterns and the challenges of the global pandemic, in the last few years, unpredictable has become our new normal. But with international growers in Spain, Kenya, Jordan, Ethiopia and South Africa – alongside our UK operations – we’re able to overcome those challenges and deliver fresh, flavourful produce all year round.

As you can imagine, such an operation comes with challenges and complications. So in choosing suppliers, we weigh up:

  • Quality of crop factors like the type of soil they use and altitude of their farm
    Alongside…
  • Logistical and financial concerns like cost of labour and transport links.

Once we’ve chosen a supplier, we’ll also support them for mutual benefit. For instance, we partly funded solar panelling, heating and greenhouses for our Kenyan grower, allowing them to make the most of their unique growing conditions.

Minimum standard

We make sure that each farm we work with operates to a minimum quality standard.

In the UK, our suppliers must meet Red Tractor Assured Food Standards – a product certification programme that comprises farm assurance schemes for food products, animal feed and fertiliser.

Overseas, our suppliers follow the world’s most widely implemented farm certification scheme, GLOBALG.A.P. which regulates Good Agricultural Practice worldwide.

someone holding fresh mint in their hands

Additionally, we take a unique approach to packaging, bunching our produce head and tail so that everything is uniform. Not only is this unique amongst British suppliers, it’s done in a pack house which is both BRCGS food safety accredited, and Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) certified.

From South Africa to Spain and Kenya, to the UK, all of our suppliers work to the same standards, day in day out. That means our customers get the same product, grown, picked and packed to the same high standard, no matter where it came from.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

We are committed to ethical trading, and we only work with suppliers who are able and willing to treat their workforce in the kindest and fairest way possible.

We insist that all of our suppliers be registered with Sedex, one of the world’s leading ethical trading service providers, and work to the standards of the ETI – who themselves follow the remit of the International Labour Organization.

This means that even in countries where laws designed to protect workers’ rights are either inadequate or not enforced, our suppliers still follow best practice on areas like:

  • Wages
  • Working hours
  • Health and safety
  • And the right to join trade unions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we delivered fresh food baskets to our in-house staff, making sure our people felt cared for during a time of great uncertainty.

Taking our lead, our suppliers followed suit, going above and beyond to make sure their workers were looked after. Many subsidised their employees food and drink, and some even had a specialist nurse offering free on site health checks and treatment.

We’re incredibly proud of our ethical standards – and we wholeheartedly believe they make for the best possible product on your plate.

many people holding a plant in their hands

Sustainability

We’re committed to sustainability, and go to great lengths to make sure our suppliers are too.

When picking a supplier, we visit their farm to make sure they meet a minimum environmental standard. In broad terms, this means that they work with the land, enhancing it rather than damaging it. At setup, we offer guidance on aspects like efficient use of water and fertiliser, and if needed connect them to experts in the field in order to solve challenges they face in the most sustainable way possible.

But that’s just the beginning. We also visit our suppliers regularly – not to conduct formal audits, but to see how they are and how we can best support them. We see these bonds as a partnership – and because of our approach, they tend to last. In fact, a quarter of our current growers have been with us for over 20 years!

We also outsource most of our production process to our growers, with 90% of our product arriving from them pre-bunched. That means we spend less on waste disposal, and pay our suppliers more instead – allowing them to pay their workers higher wages, and making our overall supply chain better for the environment.

From proven long-term working relationships to an extreme focus on being environmentally friendly, we’re incredibly proud of our approach to sustainability, and will always keep that long-term outlook in mind when working with new suppliers.

Service

At the time of writing, all of our growers have been with us for at least five years. Because each follows the four criteria above, that’s translated to an incredibly high level of operational efficiency, with our current service level sitting at 99.4%. That means our buyers and customers alike can trust us implicitly to delivers on time, and to the highest standards.

We never want to compromise on that – so as our business grows, we’ll always consider our level of service as a factor when deciding on suppliers.

Want to know more about what we look for when choosing fresh organic herb suppliers? Visit this page, or get in touch with us for more information.

Want to know more about what we look for when choosing fresh organic herb suppliers? Visit this page, or get in touch with us for more information.

Carbon Footprint Challenge

Carbon Footprint Challenge 1500 833 R&G Fresh

A carbon footprint measures the impact of our actions on the environment – a chief symptom of climate change. R&G FRESH is committed to low impact environmental activity and has actively pursued a strategy of dramatically reducing its carbon footprint by 2022.

“There are a number of areas that we are focussing on” commented Mathew Prestwich, Managing Director at R&G FRESH, “a focus on packaging is key and we are assessing all forms of materials that can be recycled, composted, or are biodegradable, but this won’t be a quick fix. It is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each, including acceptability for use (does it protect the product?) and then the ease of use from the consumers perspective. Plastic isn’t only about packaging and we are carrying our extensive plastics audits across the entire business and supply chain. We are also working closely with all suppliers to make sure we use the fresh produce we buy – this means that we don’t overproduce, we don’t transport waste and dispose of excess product which would mean wasted energy across the whole supply chain.”

“In addition to the operational elements of carbon reduction, energy use at Hawley Lane is carefully monitored. All of the energy consumed comes from renewable sources and plans are ongoing to harness solar energy to provide up to 60% of the annual electricity use.”

Amjad Hussain, R&G FRESH’s Supply Chain Manager has been researching agricultural initiatives as a way of reducing R&G FRESH’s carbon footprint. ‘Packaging is a major part of the solution; other ways we’re looking at minimising our carbon overhead is by lowering inputs such as efficient use of water usage, fertilise, allowing the crops to grow for longer, thus increasing the length of the product and getting bigger yields per acre of crop by utilising specs to use all of the plant.’

In summary, Amjad explained: ‘As a customer you don’t necessarily spend much time looking at the packaging of fresh produce, or the cultivation techniques, but there’s a lot of technical competence and thought that goes into making sure the herbs are at their freshest – in a way that impacts on the environment as little as possible.’

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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