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The turbulent road from farm to doorstep

The Evolution of Pale Green Dot

Until March this year, pale green dot had existed as a sustainably-driven fresh produce and food waste recycling business.

We’d been working with many of London’s and the South East’s finest restaurants and caterers, supplying them with our exceptional fresh, seasonal produce and helping them achieve their sustainability goals through our food waste recycling services.

In March 2020, Covid-19 rapidly forced us to rethink and restructure the business in order to survive the epidemic and the UK’s first, and then second, lockdown. With the forced closure of all hospitality businesses, we saw our sales cease almost overnight and we were left with a huge, and expensive, fresh produce problem.

We had thousands of pounds’ worth of fresh produce that had been intended for the commercial kitchens of London and Brighton but was now at risk of waste. First we made ‘home’ kits for the furloughed staff who worked in our partner restaurants. Then our Sustainability team were tasked with redistributing the bulk of the produce to food banks, community kitchens and NHS hospital teams around the South East. The genuine thanks and relief we saw when delivering the produce certainly helped brighten, what was otherwise, a very difficult time. 

This then left the question on how were we going to survive? The obvious choice was to pivot from a commercial to a domestic market. After all, how hard could it be?

The answer, very hard.

 

 

Nurses with fresh produce boxes

 

 

Logistics and supply proved to be the biggest challenges. With the restaurant kitchens, they'd all been based in London or Brighton, but by opening up to the domestic market, we now had customers across the whole of the South East, all ordering different things and on different days. Finding a commercially and sustainably viable way to deliver to everyone proved to be the biggest challenge, and if we’re honest, still is.

We quickly opened a logistics centre near Brighton and Dray and Chris, two of pale green dot’s founders relocated there to help facilitate the day-to-day operations and get the home delivery service off the ground.

As demand continued to soar for our fresh produce boxes, finding suitable suppliers became harder. We had exhausted all of our regular suppliers and we were forced to onboard new farms in order to meet demand. The majority of the produce was great, but there were, on occasions, times when quality didn't meet the standards customers had come to expect from pale green dot. We hold our hands up and say that at times we did not respond quickly enough to the issues raised, and for this we’re sorry.

Once lockdown lifted, demand dropped and we re-evaluated the whole operation. We brought in experienced people to help us continue the improvements to our overall service. We sourced, and continue to source, new farms to grow produce in a sustainable, low impact, pale green dot way. We improved, and continue to improve, the back of house systems to ensure the smooth running of operations.

We know we made a few errors when getting our home delivery service started, but we are committed to delivering the best service and produce to our customers and continue to re-evaluate, learn and improve. We are confident that the service we now provide exceeds any of our competitors.

A big thank you to our customers who have stuck with us through thick and thin. It has been quite a journey for the pale green dot team and our wider community, one that we have certainly learnt from, and we look forward to seeing where it takes us.

We hope that you’ll come on the journey with us