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How To Market Home Delivery Vegetable Boxes

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The idea of selling boxes of ‘delivered to the door’ fresh vegetables has been around for a long time but if you have access to lots of home-grown produce, it could an idea for a small business. Look at what you grow yourself and then look at what the growers on local allotments and market gardens are producing: could this be a family business, or a co-operative. Vegetable box schemes seem to be just as successful in towns, village and rural area where signing up for a weekly delivery of seasonal produce is something that is looked forward to. Consider the following:
What you'll need: 
Plentiful and reliable suppliers
Attractive boxes
Literature for handouts
Tips sheets and recipes
Reliable transport
1: 
Can you produce/access enough seasonal produce to guarantee a delivery every week of the year? And make it look appetising? A winter box comprising solely of lumpy root vegetables won’t tickle anyone’s taste buds. What can you offer at this time of the year to keep your customers’ interested?
2: 
It’s the fresh, straight from the garden taste that makes the boxes so appealing. Can you include several different types of lettuce, and different sized tomatoes to add interest? Two large beefsteak tomatoes and a bunch of cherry tomatoes on the vine, for example.
3: 
If including anything unfamiliar, such as kohlrabi, be prepared to include a Tip Sheet with a information about the vegetable and a couple of suggestions for cooking, otherwise the produce will be wasted. Don’t be afraid to offer something new or different, but make sure your customers know what to do with it.
4: 
The advantage of the vegetable box scheme it that the contents have only been harvested one day before delivery, unlike supermarkets may keep produce in cold storage for days, weeks or months.
5: 
It’s better to convincing a customer to sign up for the scheme in the late spring and summer when there is a much wider selection of fruit, salad and vegetables on offer. Possibly do all your planning during the winter, ready to launch the business in the spring.
6: 
Think about your ‘catchment area’ and remember that you can’t be delivering, gardening and marketing. What other human resources are at your disposal?
7: 
Use standard sized cardboard boxes each week, and use bunches of herbs and vegetable leaves to make it attractive. Offer to remove the previous week’s box when you deliver the new one but don’t be tempted to recycle dirty or badly stained boxes.
8: 
Prices generally begin around the £8-£9 and until you establish a small customer list don’t be tempted to over-reach your capacity for growing or fresh supply. Once you’re established, you can offer a deluxe box if your customers want something a little grander – and are willing to pay the extra money for it.
9: 
When travelling around to introduce your service, make sure you take a few vegetable boxes made up to give people an idea of what they can expect. When the round is established, always carry a couple of extra boxes for potential customers who may want to buy there and then.
10: 
Don’t be tempted to cover a wide area to start with – start small and gradually build up as your supply chains become more established. Start with a central location and work outwards, rather than picking areas at random that can involved a lot of driving and petrol consumption.
Conclusion: 
Check out any potential competition on the Internet and check other websites to see what they are offering their customers. There is a nationwide vegetable box scheme operated by Riverford Organic. Go onto their sites and see how they do things.
Tips: 
Consider adding free-range eggs to the selection if you have access to local farm fresh eggs.
Consider including locally homemade jams and preserves to offer during the winter months.
Include a weekly A5 recipe sheet with details of future selections.
Warnings: 
Never be temped to supplement your stock with bought-in produce from wholesalers. Customers will be able to tell the difference and you’ll quickly loose their custom.
References: 

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