Plastic-Free Fruit and Veg Delivery Business Sees Subscriptions Soar
Family-run Fruutbox launched in the spring of 2020, in the midst of the first lockdown and well ahead of their previous planned “live” date in the summer. Since then, the plastic-free fruit and veg box delivery scheme has grown in popularity and reach, now delivering across most of mainland Cornwall and into Plymouth. This latest lockdown has seen another sharp increase in subscriptions, and the business is set to expand into new premises.
“We were in the midst of planning and testing FruutBox when the pandemic hit” says co-founder Katie Sawday, a mother of two young children from Wadebridge. “Friends and family who knew what we were cooking up urged us to launch there and then to fulfill a need locally for families to get their fruit and veg without having to leave their homes to go to the shops. We had registered the business back in September 2019 and our initial plan was to launch in the Summer 2020 but instead we jumped in, bought a refrigerated van and started to deliver locally, adding more postcodes around Cornwall as word spread and orders started to come in.”
FruutBox was founded with a primary focus on delivering fruit and veg boxes free of single-use plastics, but the service is also designed for young families. Katie and her husband Jamie, who has a background in farming and fresh produce, had tried to cut as much plastic packaging out of their lives as possible but the appetite of their two fruit-hungry preschoolers meant that most of what was left in their recycling bin each week was fruit and veg packaging. They set out to design the sort of service that they couldn’t find elsewhere; being convenient and easy to use, offering set boxes with consistent contents and the ability to swap or add extra items so that families know what they’ll be getting and can plan their meals and minimize wastage.
They wanted to make the amazing fresh produce grown around them here in Cornwall more accessible for local residents, celebrating Cornish growers and sharing their knowledge of where and how our food is grown.
Over the last few weeks Fruutbox has seen another marked increase in customers, with many signing up to a subscription after ordering their first box, or simply going straight in with a weekly or fortnightly subscription. “Because it’s not sitting in distribution centers, supermarket warehouses or on the shop floor for all of that additional time, we’ve got a much shorter supply chain and most of our produce has a much longer shelf life” Jamie tells us, “That means that some customers are ordering fortnightly, or have a weekly subscription with some items set to a fortnightly delivery. One of the things I’ve really loved about launching this business is having those conversations with customers on their doorsteps and getting to explain where their fruit and veg has come from, and when and why. I'd like to think that after shopping with us for a while our customers will have developed a greater understanding of fresh produce, local and otherwise, and be more informed about their fruit and veg””
Whilst the Sawdays expect some drop-off in orders once the current restrictions ease, their current projected growth means that they’re now looking at moving into larger premises to allow them to store and pack the volumes of fresh produce that they are turning over, as well as maybe having a small shop-front for collections. At the end of the spring lockdown they saw only a small percentage of their customers return to buying their fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, with many deciding to stick with their plastic-free service. Having launched and grown their business through such a challenging first year, and with the plastic pollution problem at the forefront of many Cornish families minds, the Sawdays hope that they can continue to consolidate their business in Cornwall and beyond through 2021.
We jumped in, bought a refrigerated van and started to deliver locally, adding more postcodes around Cornwall as word spread and orders started to come in