Fresh organic fruit and veg takes a starring role at Unicorn; we’ve got the biggest selection you’ll find in the North West, and at prices that compare well to our supermarket competitors.
Where possible, we buy direct from growers and always privilege local and UK availability. We receive fresh deliveries every day of the week, meaning produce can be on the shelves within hours of harvest. We treat seasonality as European wide (with the exception of tropical fruits and ‘essential’ lines such as apples, oranges and avocados). Nothing we purchase from abroad is air-freighted, and we only buy organic or ‘in conversion’ fruit and vegetables.
Over the years we have built strong relationships with both UK farmers and European producer groups, so we can sell good quality, fairly-priced organic produce. We typically offer around 100 lines on any day. As we don’t sell non-organic fresh produce we don’t have to prepack to distinguish at the till, which means you avoid the extra 15-20% price penalty added at the multiples. Other benefits of loose fruit and veg is that you can choose which selection you want and really see and smell what you’re getting, while avoiding having to deal with piles of packaging once you get home.
Our direct buying approach will still make our certified produce at times cheaper than non-organic supermarket produce (particularly UK field crops). The organic range at supermarkets does not compete with us on price, availability, range or quality.
Our Organic Growers
Local supply is our ideal. Year on year we have worked with UK farmers to increase the proportion of UK organic fruit and veg available at Unicorn, and over time it has improved significantly. There are some very talented organic growers in the North West, and we hope their numbers may increase with the creation of Farmstart Manchester by The Kindling Trust. Our most local growers are Glebelands City Growers, a co-operative of farmers running market gardens in Sale and Stockport.
The seasons limit what can be grown here however, so we do rely on organic European and even Southern Hemisphere produce to maintain an impressive range throughout the year. We’d always encourage eating seasonally – it’s usually cheaper, tastier, more nutritious and of course a lot less ‘well travelled’.
Glebelands City Growers
Glebelands workers co-operative runs two market garden sites in Sale and Stockport… Read More
Bagthorpe Farm in Norfolk supplies us with potatoes, parsnips, beetroot… Read More
Francis Sampson’s farm is right at the tip of Cornwall, near Lands End… Read More
Newfields Organics lies high on the southern edge of the North York Moors… Read More
We are keen to support our growers, who are typically at the bottom of the food-system chain. We try to balance affordable prices for customers with a good return for the growers, a very difficult thing to achieve given the market realities of UK horticulture. Cheap overseas labour, low fuel-mile costs and low grocery expenditure in the UK have all combined to muddle our shopping perceptions. In real terms, fresh fruit and veg has never been cheaper. Farmers (including ours) are surviving on very low wages because the prices we have all come to expect don’t meet the true costs of production, and trading systems generally favour the buyers rather than the growers. Although we can’t change the market overnight, we have long supported our growers in other ways, helping them out when times are hard, and always dealing with them in an honest and human way. They tell us they much prefer dealing with us to the supermarkets.
In 2017 we were proud to establish a Growers Fund, equivalent to 1% of fruit and veg sales for the year and available to applications from all growers currently supplying Unicorn.