Increasingly, consumers are aware of their impact on the supply chain. By choosing where and what they buy, they know that that can have an impact on the environment. For example, by choosing to eat fish that has only been sustainably caught, as opposed to methods which can mean that fish stocks of a certain species run dangerously low - further affecting the food chain in which they belong.
Looking at companies that offer things like Hello Fresh, can be a good way to take a more invested interest in the food supply chain. Food boxes have started to be seen as a crucial way to reduce food waste. Food boxes usually only deliver the necessary amount of ingredients so that no food gets thrown away - through overbuying an item that inevitably goes off before being used or through leftovers that are not eaten.
Green Chef is a company that offers the same sort of things like Hello Fresh, but it has a bigger onus on being environmentally friendly. Hello Fresh actually sets the bar very high in that department, but Green Chef goes just a little further by offsetting 100% of its operational and distribution carbon emissions too.
In addition to this crucial way of offering customers an environmentally friendly way to eat, the company also has a strict policy on how it chooses suppliers. The business is well aware of its power thanks to how much produce it can buy from suppliers in any one week. It knows, then, that the criteria it requires suppliers to meet can help encourage all suppliers to meet those standards - enticing them with constant, consistent business.
Here, we look at how Green Chef chooses its suppliers. We investigate whether it looks for things like Hello Fresh does, or whether it chooses a different path. Importantly, we identify whether Green Chef is organic or not, and what that really means. In doing so, you can gain a fuller understanding of what being organic does for the environment and whether it is actually helpful in all instances.
In examining the selection process and Green Chef’s attitude to organic produce, you can better select what company you want to buy food boxes from, by deciding whether Green Chef’s ideals closely align with yours - or not.
Green Chef UK knows, first and foremost, that their meals will only taste great if they have great produce. They, therefore, look at the quality of the ingredients that suppliers can produce before even considering them for an ongoing partnership. That means they also want ingredients that are as fresh as possible - so work with suppliers on reducing delivery times so that fresh ingredients can be packed quickly into customer food boxes.
The company also likes to work closely with farmers and suppliers who have shared ideals when it comes to quality as well as sustainably sourced produce. When it comes to picking meat and poultry suppliers, all fresh produce is from the UK (reducing delivery costs and emissions), but importantly it only comes from suppliers who pass the company’s approval process.
The process does not stop at the moment of selection, however. The company continually audits their suppliers to ensure that they keep meeting the welfare standards that Green Chef requires.
When it comes to fish or seafood, the company only ever uses suppliers that are part of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition. Other suppliers for fruit and vegetables must be farm assured and in the Summer, the company tried to source all its UK origins vegetables and herbs from British growers. The weather may sometimes make this tough, but the company continually strives to use British food where possible.
While Green Chef UK puts a heavy emphasis on choosing ingredients that are sustainably grown as well as good for a person, they’re not a wholly organic company. That may surprise some potential customers, given how much thought and energy the company puts into reducing its impact on the planet. However, the company chooses not to use solely organic food, instead focussing on delivering a fresh box of ingredients from suppliers who they know will provide the best quality.
At times, that may mean that the ingredients that are delivered are organic. However, as the company wants its customers to be 100% happy, 100% of the time, it means that at points where they cannot find an organic supplier who consistently produces high-quality ingredients, they choose suppliers whose practices are not totally organic.
Importantly, though, the company does like to label produce that is organic as organic, so you’ll know when you are eating food that has been produced free from pesticides. Though, while many of us will know that organic farming methods are sometimes better for us and the environment, that does not always mean that all other farming methods are totally bad.
That’s why its good to thoroughly understand what the term organic really means and what the designation organic certification signifies.
In the UK, any food that is labelled as organic needs to comply with the requirements outlined in a set of standards determined by the Soil Association. They run organic regulation and so organic certification is required to show that a product has met those legal standards. Importantly, being deemed as organic by the Soil Association is an internally recognised organic certification. The Soil Association is widely perceived to have some of the highest organic standards the world over.
The organic standards apply to every single part of organic manufacturing and production - including storage and sales. When you start to see how many parts of the production process are scrutinised to be eligible for certification, you may start to see why it’s so hard for Green Chef UK to be a totally organic company. Each supplier will need to have the Soil Association certification so they will all have to meet the strict standards that are applied to a company’s supply chain, record keeping, labelling, product composition, storage processes and importing.
To some customers, where their ingredients come from may not be the biggest concern. Yet, choosing a food box company with high standards for their suppliers can have several positive ramifications.
First and foremost, having a stringent approach to supplier selection ensures a high quality of produce included in boxes. The meals that customers make will therefore be far better tasting - and better for them too. Ingredients that are picked seasonally and are fresher have long been seen to have a higher nutrient content with a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals included.
Secondly, in an era of rapid climate change, customers need to realise how food production has a part to play in turning around the inevitability of global warming. Food production is one of the largest carbon emitters the world over. Yet, so much food goes to waste. Food waste is quite literally a waste of energy. Any food that isn’t eaten still has required the same amount of inputs as the food that was eaten. Plus, as more food is being bought from suppliers, they will never lower their production amounts - keeping carbon emissions unnecessarily high. Additionally, the water that is required to grow plants or produce, or for livestock could have been saved for times of drought.
Over producing livestock is another huge problem for the climate. Cows in particular produce a huge amount of methane which is bad for the environment. It makes the amount of methane in the air artificially high and is difficult for the world to cope with. So, when Green Chef picks suppliers that are only designated as higher welfare, they are ensuring that cattle, chickens and any other animals are not subject to unethical production procedures. That may make it more expensive, but in turn that makes consumers buy less, so fewer animals are reared.
It can be difficult to realise your power as a consumer, but Green Chef is aware that its customers are getting more concerned with where their food has really come from. As opposed to cutting corners and going to the cheapest suppliers which would improve Green Chef’s profit margins. Green Chef marries together two ideas. 1) That as a large buyer, they can have power in the food market by only choosing suppliers that have high standards in food production - thus forcing others to become better producers too. 2) That consumers want high welfare and high standard food production, but as a singular person, may not have the time or capacity always to buy highly reputably produced food.
Green Chef, therefore, does a lot of an environmentally minded consumer’s hard work for them. They are a one-stop shop for food for those that want and need to know that their food not only tastes great but also impacts the environment as minimally as possible.