It’s a growth industry – veggie box delivery companies are taking the market by storm We road-test boxes in your area, and find alternatives where you can get involved
Otago – MeatMail
Who are they?: Launched in 2012 by student flatmates Harry and Dave, MeatMail started life as a small consortium for students to bulk buy quality meat. Now they offer a unique subscription service that allows its community to source varied produce at a good price. They have recently launched in Christchurch and Wellington, and hope to be nationwide by the end of the year.
What’s in the box?: You can order from four areas on the website: meat, dairy, fruit and veg, or a value box. The contents vary as their main aim is to keep the price low. The $22 couples box contained a bag of apples, a packet of pak choi, silverbeet, cauliflower, a pumpkin third, capsicum, yams, pears, kiwi fruit and mandarins.
Consumer verdict: Lisa Richardson spends around $150 a week on groceries for her and partner Matthias. She says, “The produce wasn’t organic but it did seem fresher than from the supermarket. I’d be happy to pay more to have it delivered, especially if it’s supporting local business. It can be hard to tell what is seasonal in the supermarket and you do get stuck in a rut, buying the same old produce – the box was fun!”
For more information visit www.meatmail.co.nz
Canterbury – Garden City 2.0
Who are they?: Launched in May 2013 by Christchurch locals Bailey Peryman and Michelle Marquet, Garden City 2.0 is a social enterprise with a vision of building a more resilient local food system. They deliver 2500 orders across Christchurch and have a dozen pick-up points around the city. They only pack locally produced, organic food in their boxes and believe Canterbury can provide for its residents in abundance.
What’s in the box?: The contents change every week, but you have the option to exclude and substitute up to two items when you place your order online. This week’s $30 couples box contained apples (red and green), carrots, parsnip, beetroot, garlic, onions (red and white), leeks, cabbage, potatoes and two bunches of herbs.
Consumer verdict: Wendie Fagan from Christchurch usually spends $120 a week in total at the supermarket for her and husband Bob, and a little more when their daughter is home from university. She says, “The quality of the produce was great and there were many items we wouldn’t normally buy – we enjoyed roasted beetroot for dinner! We didn’t manage to use all the herbs before they went limp, but it was great to know all the produce was seasonal. The delivery to my door was a huge bonus.”
For more information visit www.gardencity.org.nz
Nelson – Fresh2U
Who are they?: The business launched in 2005 and is currently run by Lucy Maxwell, a former customer. All the produce is sourced locally from the top of the South Island, from certified organic producers. Their local delivery area runs from Marybank through Nelson to Wakefield, and they can also courier to Golden Bay, Blenheim, Picton and the West Coast. All their produce is delivered in a reusable box, which they collect the following week.
What’s in the box?: They aim to provide a good selection of fruit and veg each week, and while they ultimately decide what goes into the box, you can email them with preferences and no-go items. They also have a custom box building facility, although this costs a little more. This week’s $40 box included potatoes, avocados, kiwi fruit, oranges, apples, half a red cabbage, silverbeet, beetroot, a pumpkin, leeks and carrots.
Consumer verdict: Trevor Voyce and his wife Rachel own Migym in Nelson. They would usually spend about $200 a week on groceries for themselves, their toddler and newborn baby. Trevor says, “I think the quality was better than a lot of supermarkets, although we often shop at the local market. We were surprised by the black potatoes! I’d never even heard of them before so it was great to try something new. I’d be happy to pay a little more for door-to-door delivery. With a toddler and a newborn it’s not always easy to get out, so to have fresh veg delivered is a great concept. I’m a great believer in eating local, seasonal produce where possible, and eating seasonally is cheaper and fresher so it makes much more sense.”
For more information visit www.fresh2u.co.nz
Wellington – The Organic Connection
Who are they?: Serving all areas of the North Island, but particularly Wellington, Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast, Wanganui, Wairarapa and the Manawatu, Lorraine Upham’s business offers a simple, convenient way to source organically certified fruit and veg. Orders must be placed by 6pm Monday for courier delivery Tuesday or Wednesday.
What’s in the box?: There are three sizes of box, and you can request three substitutions. Contents include apples, pears, lemons, bananas, kiwi fruit, mandarins, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot, chard, kumara and fennel. Tamarillos, urenika (purple potatoes), kohlrabi and choko also feature, and recipes are available on the website.
Consumer verdict: Bridget Lissaman spends about $30 a week on fruit and veg at the local market, to feed her, husband Andrew and their two children. She says, “Even though the box was more expensive at $55, I thought it was good value. Packed full of unusual items that were fresh and good quality, and organic. Delivery is a huge bonus.”
For more information visit www.organicconnection.co.nz
Auckland and the Waikato – Ooooby
Who are they?: Profits from this social enterprise are reinvested in developing local food production, while ensuring their suppliers are paid fairly. They currently pay farmers 50 percent of the total retail value, and have a network of 4000 ‘back-yard producers’ providing food grown on their section they can’t use. Oooby bulk buy a lot of produce from bigger farms, meaning you can add to your box with ‘leftovers’ sold at a discounted price.
What’s in the box?: Each week they promise a combination of organic and conventional produce with 5-6 varieties of veg and 2-3 varieties of fruit, based on a combination of what is in season and best value. For an extra $2 you can build your own custom box. This $33 standard box contained half a pumpkin, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado, carrots, apples, beetroot, onions and mandarins. You can substitute up to three items, and also add hundreds of artisan products from organic and cottage suppliers.
Consumer verdict: Idealog editor Nikki Mandow usually spends $50–$70 a week on fruit and veg for herself, her husband and three children. Nikki says, “At $33 I think the box is good value. I loved the fact there was kale in there – I’ve never eaten it before – and having a load of beetroot outside salad season will force me to be creative. I like the idea of eating only seasonal produce, but in reality, I’d probably spend extra on items like tomatoes and bananas to make sure the kids got a range of healthy stuff. I would pay more for delivery, but I am also fiercely loyal to my local fruit and veg shop, although the produce isn’t necessarily local.”
For more information visit www.oooby.org
The team at Vegebox are passionate about making quality, organic and affordable food. Starting as a group of families buying whole foods almost 40 years ago, today Vegebox remains family owned and committed to providing you the best in fresh produce, sourced locally as well as being grown on their own Hawkes Bay farms. Vegebox deliver fresh to your door throughout New Zealand, with an interactive and informative website including info on what’s in season, why choosing organic is best and the different types of vegeboxes available.
For more information visit www.vegebox.co.nz
Nationwide – Food Box
My Food Box was launced in 2009 by Peter and Jenny Smith to deliver fresh fruit, veggie and meat option nationwide weekly, fortnightly or as a one-off service. Each box comes with a new recipe from Jenny’s Kitchen.
For more information visit www.foodbox.co.nz