The CSA Network UK recently contributed to a Food Foundation report on the response of UK Veg Boxes and CSAs to COVID-19. Read the full report here.
Thank you to all of our CSA members who contributed to this report during this busy time, as well as all the other veg box schemes who contributed across the UK. Some of the key findings include:
- New data from the Food Foundation shows that UK veg box sales have increased by 111% in the six weeks between the end of February 2020 and mid-April 2020
- A survey of 101 veg box schemes across the UK shows weekly sales of veg boxes have more than doubled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
- 82% of box schemes now have waiting lists and are closed to new orders, with the average waiting list numbering 160 customers
- A total of 3.5 million veg boxes are likely to have been delivered since the beginning of March, but if waiting lists could be met, 5.3 million veg boxes could be supplied over the next six weeks
- 65% of box schemes are actively prioritising key workers, the vulnerable or isolating
- Veg box schemes are calling for support in the form of Government investment grants to help upscale fruit and vegetable supply to meet increased demand.
Of the types of veg suppliers surveyed, CSAs showed the smallest increase, averaging 90 boxes before and 103 after, an increase of 14%. This is likely to be a reflection of their model. CSAs are designed specifically to produce food for the number of members they have. Many CSAs also have a strong commitment to grow most if not all of their veg, which makes it difficult to expand on short notice. Despite this, some CSAs have taken on new members, stretched resources to supply vulnerable citizens or have increased cropping plans to allow more members to join later in the season. Although CSAs haven’t increased their numbers as rapidly as box schemes, the general resilience of the model has been seen in other ways. Except for changes to allow for social distancing and more strict hygiene practices, most CSAs have carried on more or less as usual. The long-term partnership between producers and members, fundamental to CSAs, has meant a pool of volunteers are available to help with tasks such as delivering to vulnerable members or filling in if staff have to self- isolate. If the CSA model were to be replicated in every community, this selfsupporting network would be able to keep local, fresh and healthy produce flowing to all citizens in times of crisis.