How we do what we do
So what goes on to bring you fresh produce all week?
Our buyer and driver set off in the evenings between 5:30 – 6pm, to go to London Covent garden market. We are one of the first buyers into the market, and so get to have first choice of what is coming in. We go through our stock take of that day’s trade, to see how many, and which items are required to buy. Once our buying list is written out it is normally about 11pm, and the buying can start. The majority of salesmen are in, delivery’s into the market have been made, and the mad work begins. There are trucks pulling in and out of the market all night, whether they be from France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, or the many local growers and haulers bringing produce in.
So buying begins, we walk the market nonstop backwards and forwards, seeing what is in, what stands have what produce available, and keep going back to stands to see what other items have arrived. Prices fluctuate around the market, while many may have the same or very similar product the price can alter. We want to buy for the best price possible, but will not skimp on quality, if something costs a slight bit more, but is better, Then simply we won’t compromise on the quality. We have always had the pride on everything we buy. If we would not be happy to have it at home, then we are certainly not happy to put it in a customer’s bag. Whilst some products may look amazing, shiny, or massive in size, if once we taste them, and they are not up to standards, then we won’t buy them. So once we have found the products we wish to buy, we then try to bid with the salesman, if they would take less, or come to the best price we can get, trust me its hard work. We then order up how many we require and they are sent out to our vehicle.
We quality check everything we buy, but obviously with it being fresh produce anything can happen to it, but we as a company have always rectified any problems straight away. Our driver whilst loading our lorry up, checks everything over to try and catch any mistakes. He knows what our standards are, and has been known to spot the wrong item coming out to us, by mistake. Between 11pm and 3-4am, we are walking the market, bidding and buying what we need for that days sales, before setting off back to our base in Dereham. 4am latest we leave the city of London and head back to Norfolk.
7am is the latest we are back in Norfolk so that our Wholesale and Retail side of our business can start for the day. Some wholesale orders have been collected, and from 7am, we are frantically completing orders and putting our stock away for the day’s trade. Vans are loaded up and our delivery drivers head out to local shops, restaurants etc. to deliver them fresh produce. Our warehouse team, are then putting stock away and preparing for the day for customers to come in and select their shopping. Trust us there is a lot of work to do in the two hours before opening, so that everything is on display, everywhere is tidy, prices are shown, and all our deliveries are out of the way. Its close sometimes, with only a couple of minutes to spare lol.
We are then open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and 8 to 12 Saturdays. During the time of preparing to be open, season depending we have multiple local growers dropping in bringing their items to sell. We support local growers with items such as, lettuces, bunch beetroot, leeks, sprouting broccoli, courgettes & beans from the Mileham/Gressenhall area. Tomatoes, Cucumbers, baby plum tomatoes from Toftwood. Eggs from Hingham. Potatoes from Norwich. New potatoes, Sweetcorn, Pumpkins from Oxburgh. As well as sourcing Cauliflowers, cabbage, Calibrese, Pumpkins, Sprout stalks from Lincolnshire when available. Whilst out delivering we also collect produce to bring back from other wholesalers in the area, such as Melons, Mangoes, Leeks, Cabbages, Potatoes, all dependant on the time of the year and availability.
So 4pm comes, and we are closed for the day, but were not done there. We then have Email orders to collect, our fridge to tidy and put stock away that has come in that day. We sweep up every night, ensuring that we are always tidy. Stock take is then done, and the same process will start again for our buyer when they come in at 5:30pm. They are Long days, with the company being contactable 24 hours a day. When our warehouse team finish, our night team take over. When our night team return in the morning, Our warehouse team then take over from them. A lot of this is easier seen in pictures to understand just what happens, and just what Covent Garden is like. We are then loading up our trucks ready for the markets that are out the next day. The produce is kept in the fridge to be put on the trucks in the morning, again ensuring we are keeping the produce as fresh as possible, and as cold as possible, this is vital in the summer months.
We bring all our produce back on a fully refrigerated truck, deliver to our wholesale customers in our refrigerated vans, and keep all our produce in our massive fridge. Doing this ensures we are providing our customers with the freshest produce around, Buying Daily, Selling Daily, and with minimal waste. We recycle so much on site too. All of our unwanted cardboard is sent back to our waste company who recycle it all. We have regular people that collect any produce not up to scratch for animals, but anything that is not useable is sent for composting. We use minimum packaging with our produce, and supply paper bags to select, the old fashioned way. We can box customers shopping, so that the box can be used again and again. We have such little waste, and definitely feel we are doing our bit for the environment.