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Thank you to all 369 of you (about a quarter of our members) for completing our annual survey. It always provides such useful insights on how we're doing and what impact the veg scheme is making. We wanted to share the main findings with you, so you can get a sense of what the veg scheme community think about the service, what difference it makes to your lives and the ideas for how we could adapt or improve things.
Every year we have overwhelmingly positive feedback on the quality, quantity and variety of fruit and veg we supply: 92% of you rated the quality of veg as good or excellent and 87% for the quantity. We always see slightly lower scores on variety at 67% and value for money at 78%. Some of this is inevitable with seasonal eating, and the comparatively (and artificially) low prices of conventional produce. A lot of you shared that you appreciate that this is the nature of seasonal, local food and you're learning to expand your cooking skills to incorporate produce you're not used to working with, or dealing with things like kohlrabi gluts in creative ways!
We're pleased to see our efforts to improve the fruit bags have been well received. Overall you were more positive about the quality and value for money of the fruit bags this year with 72% of you rating quantity of fruit as excellent or good and quality at 80%. Although we have heard that some of you would prefer to have bananas less frequently.
You are voracious veg eaters!
83% of you say that you eat 5 to 10 portions of fruit & veg a day, which is pretty formidable considering that as a nation, according the to Peas Please Report 2021, only 33% of adults and 12% of children are getting their five-a-day. 19% of you are achieving 7-a-day and a valiant 3% manage to eat 10-a-day. Well done you!
You're also food waste angels – you're doing pretty well at curbing food waste, even in our buiery post-lockdown lives. 44% of you say you waste almost nothing, which is a little but less than the 51% last year. Only 12% say you're throwing away a couple of pieces of fruit and veg or more a week, which has stayed constant from last year.
We have a high number of vegetarians and vegans on the scheme, and also quite a lot of “flexitarians” - people who eat meat or fish only occasionally.
30% eat meat/fish less than once a week
31% eat meat/fish more than once a week
4% eat meat every day
The top four changes you're making to your cooking and shopping habits are that you're:
1) eating more seasonally
2) eating a wider range of fresh produce
3) using less packaging
4) cooking more from scratch
This year we asked what inspired you to join the scheme, to get a sense of which of our principles resonated the most. What we found was that all our principles were very important to our members. Paying Farmers Fairly scored the highest with 92% of you rating it as very important. The principles that had the lowest perceived importance were being non-profit (56%) and training up growers (52%).
70% of our members feel a stronger sense of belonging to a community since being part of the veg scheme.
You're low-emissions enthusiasts, helping to keep the scheme low-carbon with 97% of you walking or cycling to your collection points.
WhatsApp Buddy Groups were something we introduced in lockdown so you could help your fellow members out. 48% have joined a group, and 45% of those people have used it in some way.
About a third of you said you'd like these WhatsApp groups to develop into a community forum of some sort. We're reflecting on what that might look like and will get back to you soon.
Changes to collection times
You told us that it’s sometimes a challenge to pick up your veg bags during the available collection times, so we have extended the hours at several of our collection points – check them out here.
Some of you mentioned lighting issues at your collection point. Our veg scheme team is already on the case to light up your cupboards.
The majority (76%) of members' veg bag subscriptions feed one or two people, and 20% of households who answered the survey have children to feed.
The majority (67%) of our members are aged 26-45 years old.
Ethnicity remains very much the same as last year - 84% white; 4% identify as Asian or British Asian; 1% identify as Black or Black British and 4% are mixed race.
6% of you told us you have a disability, which remains the same as last year.
15% of members are on a low income.
As always, packaging is a hot topic and there have been some more requests to reduce the amount of plastic that we use.
We're always looking for ways to reduce our packaging and to expand the amount of plastic bags being recycled and reused. It's important to note that the blue carrier bags that we use are made from recycled plastic, so we are keeping a lot of plastic out of landfill by using them, and every time you return these to us helps to further reduce the energy and resources used to produce the bags.
Your return rates are very high – 67% of you said you always return the bags (a big improvement on 59% last year) and 27% sometimes return them. Only 2% of you said you never do, which is brilliant and an improvement from 4% last year.
We're constantly reviewing the plastic packaging issues, and so are our suppliers, many of whom are now providing greens in bunches rather than bags. We thank you for doing your bit by returning the plastic bags as much as possible. We will continue to explore alternatives but we won't introduce something until we are sure it is genuinely more environmentally friendly than the current system.
Every year we have overwhelmingly positive comments about our customer service. You said we're easy to get hold of and provide considered responses, we're friendly and swift to resolve issues.
Thanks for your understanding when we are less able to answer phone calls. We've managed to get staff back in the office and back on the phones so that we can be even more responsive to you.
You're positive feedback always give us a bit of a lift, and we really love to hear how you're turning into vegetable fanatics!
“I love the GC veg box and community and I can't imagine cooking any other way now! The quality of the veg is generally excellent and I now eat vegetables that I would never have shopped for before, but now love”
“I think that the variety and quality of veg has been improved this year, which is really appreciated considering the challenges posed by the pandemic and Brexit supply issues. As always, thanks for your hard work!”
“Thank you so much for the veg bag. It’s a weekly highlight; like a Christmas stocking! I recommend you to all my local friends.”
As always, your suggestions for improvements are so valuable and give us a lot of insight into how we can do better.
We had a few very thoughtful comments about pricing and how this can make the scheme inaccessible for people on low incomes.
This is something we grapple with all the time, and is unfortunately a systemic issue with the food system, structural inequality, low pay and the rising cost of living, which are mostly outside of our power to change. However, we continue to lobby alongside Sustain and other campaigning groups for food system reform that would level the playing field for ecological farmers and provide localised infrastructure that would make it easier and cheaper for smaller organic farms to compete and thus reduce the monopoly that supermarkets have over the grocery market.
We have also had useful feedback about the variety of produce we put in the bags and requests for more flexibility. We understand our deadline for changing or cancelling orders can be a challenge, but this is one area we simply can't change: it's aligned with the deadline for placing orders with the farmers. Any later would mean produce going to waste.
Some of you asked about supplementing additional items: we're looking into how this could work.
Others asked for the ability to request substitutions for certain produce. We would love to be able to accommodate this but the collection system means we can't provide individualised bags. Our best solution for giving you the chance to substitute items you don't like or can't eat is the swap box. You'll find one at every collection point (except e5 bakehouse – sorry, it just doesn't work in this venue).
Some of you said you couldn't find the swap box – we promise you it is there, but sometimes it might end up in a different cupboard than usual, so if it's not where you're expecting, then check other cupboards or shelves.
There were also some interesting suggestions of occasionally giving less variety in favour of larger quantities of an item; our veg ordering team are considering these ideas.