Pale Green Dot puts itself on the map

This year has forced all of us to reconsider our plans, and Pale Green Dot know that only too well.

In the pre-COVID-19 world, North Acton-based food supplier Pale Green Dot was working tirelessly, delivering fresh produce to the capital’s restaurants and caterers. Lockdown forced them to change their approach, and the path they carved out involved switching to home delivery to neighbourhoods across the South East.

We had a chance to speak to Pale Green Dot, to learn how they have been handling this transition towards a new business model entirely, and what they’ve done to help share a more sustainable way of sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables to consumers.

A selection from the Pale Green Dot’s farms of fresh, sustainable foods

A fresher, greener approach

Making the big switch from being a supplier for London restaurants to the front door of homes was never going to be easy.

“The biggest challenge was the logistics”, Pale Green Dot explain. “Delivering a thousand boxes of fresh produce a day to homes across the South East was far more challenging than the deliveries to our restaurant partners who had been concentrated in central London and Brighton.”

Even so, the group managed to enter into a saturated home delivery market and make their mark. Data helps inform much of Pale Green Dot’s decision-making, dispatching fresh, locally-grown fruit and vegetables from their network of partner-farmers right to a doorstep near you. This ethos of farm to doorsteps helps minimise the size of the supply chain substantially.

“There is a digital revolution going on, absolutely…This past year, we’ve been pretty focused on COVID-19 and business survival, so our use of that data is focused on logistics and our home delivery service.”

Looking to 2021, Pale Green Dot is openly looking for help in accessing better data from the farming community, especially regarding yields and harvests, to help improve yields for those partner-farmers and deliver on consumer demand. Pale Green Dot’s doorstep deliveries helped give them invaluable insights into consumer habits during lockdown, suggesting that more of us are learning to make the most of the things we have, rather than simply wasting them.

“Overall, lockdown seems to have made us less wasteful food-wise”, they explain. “Unfortunately, office culture made a lot of us heavily reliant on that morning to-go cup of coffee, and sandwich meal-deal at lunch, and all that disposable packaging really adds up.”

Closing the loop

Looking to the post-COVID world, Pale Green Dot is optimistic. “Our favourite impact of lockdown has been everyone having more time on their hands to improve their cooking and baking skills, and being able to get experimental with things they may not have had the time to try pre-lockdown.”

The benefit of sourcing locally-grown produce is the unavoidable seasonality of the items available. Pale Green Dot sees great value in the idea of embracing a more seasonal way of eating, saying: “Food that is in season is often cheaper and of far superior quality than when purchasing it out of season.

“Britain grows an incredible range of diverse, nutritious and tasty produce across the calendar year. With a little bit of meal planning and some home cooking, it’s pretty easy to eat a seasonal plate of food most days.”

A closed-loop food system is the cornerstone of Pale Green Dot’s work. The food that our farmers grow needn’t go to waste, and could have a role to play in keeping soil fertile and ripe for fresh produce for the next season of delicious fruit and vegetables.

“The shorter the chain from a farmer to you, the fresher and more sustainably-produced your food, the lower the food miles and – if the chain is properly monitored – what’s on your plate comes with a smaller carbon footprint.”

This year helped the business finalise plans to launch the Pale Green Dot Foundation, which will seek to bring greater awareness to improving how we source our food. This will mean working with food and sustainability-based charities, NFPs and NGOs, to try closing more food loops, to encourage greater recycling of food waste, to support local growers and to maintain the health of our soil.

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