Understanding Agriculture

Reynolds’ mission statement is ‘passionate about produce’ and the company’s attitude to sourcing fresh product bears testimony that it is not just a glib one-liner. It really does offer a complete farm to fork service thanks to the unique relationship it has built up with the growers themselves


For Reynolds, throughout its environmental practices, some of which existence, working with suitable suppliers has been key to proving consistent product of the quality required. When the company was based in Spitalfields Market, product was procured from the market itself. As the volume increased Reynolds was able to source more products directly. This enabled the opportunity of a closer relationship with the grower base. In general, suppliers who were able to provide this level of volume also tended to have more technical resource, or supplying customers who had further demands such as assured produce schemes or more recently environmental requirements. These are areas key to Reynolds.


Now, within Reynolds’ fresh product supplier base, the growers range from small local companies to multinational produce suppliers. “At all levels we have seen a real commitment to progressing have been covered in previous editions of Foodservice Footprint. It is fair to say that there are many facets to environmental and sustainability practices. Suppliers have handled these in different ways, and with some there has been interaction with ourselves and others, we have been able to benefit from their own initiatives,” says Tony Reynolds.


“We are regularly asked for locally sourced products. This in itself provides challenges to a national distribution company where there is expectation to ensure consistency across a customer’s estate which may be spread throughout the UK. We have overcome this for a number of customers but with smaller growers has required a higher level of technical support. This is an area which we have been keen to support if is of mutual benefit to both parties.


“Within the supplier technical approval process and ongoing technical liaison with the supplier, one of the agenda points increasingly being discussed are environmental initiatives. As a business it is paramount to understand the requirements of each grower, what the opportunities are, and how the two companies can work together. As Reynolds increasingly works with the supplier base it is key to understanding the initiatives that are in place or planned for the future. Examples of this have been water recovery systems within potato washing or biological controls rather than over use of pesticides within tomato production. It is true to say that we may not always influence or create an environmental initiative within the grower base but it is important that where one has been developed that we can be involved and raise the awareness of this to the customer base,” says Ian Booth, Technical Director.


Produce Technical Manager Stuart Lawson reckons The Red Tractor Scheme is a good example of where there is a combined benefit for both the grower and Reynolds.


“This also provides product with provenance to the catering establishment and ultimately meets the demands of the consumer. To ensure that this is managed within foodservice, it is key to have a continued open dialogue with the supplier. The Red Tractor logo is becoming more apparent on supermarket shelves. Within this environment the process for the supplier includes labeling of a pack and then distribution into the retailer. The control over the final usage remains with the consumer – although this may be a slight simplification of the process!


“If foodservice is considered, there are two additional steps from the grower – once through a distributor such as ourselves delivering to a kitchen, and subsequently to the ultimate consumer. This requires very close liaison with the grower, as we have to consider whether product is available as this may affect the printed menu. We also have to consider how we support the chef with maintaining traceability once in the kitchen environment through use of packaging and education; how does this link to the cost effectiveness of the final product; and how can we communicate on an ongoing basis the current seasonal products to a busy chef; and how can our food development team support menu development using these products, “ says Lawson.


“Within the technical and procurement teams, we have recognised the need for continued resource and expertise to liaise closely with grower base. We are also pleased to be working with Footprint Intelligence, along with a number of other key distributors, who are investigating benchmarking and status systems as a method of understanding key environmental criteria of the supplier base,” says Reynolds.


The Reynolds provenance

The Reynolds family has been supplying fresh produce for over 60 years. The journey began when William Reynolds set up a fruit and vegetables stall at the Ridley road Market in hackney, in London’s east end. David and his son tony grew the business and started supplying restaurants in London and the home counties when they set up a bigger branch at the Old Spitalfields Market in Whitechapel. The rapid growth forced the company to relocate to a newly developed site at the new Spitalfields Market in Leyton in 1991.

Over the past decade, Reynolds has seen further substantial growth under the direction of Managing Director tony Reynolds with the assistance of a dynamic management team. As the coverage area got wider and wider, Reynolds opened a number of strategically located depots to achieve its ambition of a complete national coverage. In September 2005, the company opened a new national distribution facility at Waltham cross. This enabled even further expansion, allowing a massive increase in the product range.