Tesco makes second bid for veg box market

Tesco has made a return to the organic veg box scene.

The retailer’s new service – called Soil and Seed – launched in early November (at www.soilandseed.co.uk) and offers a range of five veg, fruit, and veg and fruit boxes with prices starting at £10. The service, which includes 7-day-a-week delivery is initially confined to customers with London post codes. A delivery charge of £3 or £6 applies depending on delivery time slot.

Tesco is working with a co-operative of Soil Association-certified organic fruit and vegetable growers who are featured on the new website, along with recipes and a blog. However, customers leave the folksy Soil and Seed site as soon as they place an order, landing on the supermarket’s main shopping site.

Tesco trialled veg boxes in 2006 – but only in a limited number of stores, and with no delivery element. The retailers is confident that its sophisticated logistics systems and its flexible delivery service, makes it well placed to succeed with its offer this time around.

Tesco will have been well aware of the continuing growth in organic veg box sales – up 7.2% in 2011 to £167 million.

• Last month leading London veg box operator Abel & Cole (with sales of £9.3 million and pre-tax profits of £2.5 million in 2011) was sold to the makers of Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings, William Jackson Food Group of Hull.