“Where’s my ……?”

An explanation of “missing items” from a member of the packing teampoppypacking

I am sure many of you have experienced that moment when you unpack your food hub delivery and find that something you ordered isn’t there. We fully understand the frustration you must feel when you realise that you haven’t got the eggs you’d ordered to bake that birthday cake for tomorrow, or there’s no fresh ginger and that’s the final ingredient you need for the curry you planned for supper tonight.

I thought it might be helpful to explain to you why these things happen and why we cannot always get a complete order out to you.

Firstly there are the problems you can’t plan for, the vagaries of the weather, illness, pests and diseases. For example a couple of weeks ago one of our producers began the week with a good crop of parsley, then it snowed,  and the crop was destroyed. In addition most of our producers are tiny enterprises with one or two workers at most, when that worker falls sick unexpectedly they simply cannot supply us.

Then there are unexpectedly big orders, for instance, eggs are presenting a real challenge at the moment. Lots of you are ordering them, but in winter the hens lay fewer eggs, so we are finding that there are not always enough eggs to fill everyone’s order. Where possible we try to make sure everyone gets something, so those of you who order in larger quantities may sometimes find you only get half.

On other occasions our producers forget to remove an item from the list when it is no longer available. Keeping up with the paperwork is always a challenge for small producers who generally do their administration in the evenings after a full days work.

We are hoping to update our IT system soon so producers can identify how much stock they have and the item is then removed automatically from the list once they’ve all gone.

Then there’s our bulk orders of dried goods, to keep costs low for our customers we order in bulk and to reduce wastage we try to not to order until too early because of use by dates, so sometimes we have to wait a few weeks before we make a new order. We should take items off the list when we run out, but sometimes we don’t get it done as promptly as we should.

Then  there are the simple mistakes. A team of 3 to 5 volunteers pack hundreds of items every week, we tick off each item on your invoice as we put it in the box, then check to make sure everything is ticked before we fold your invoice, but occasionally things get missed, for which we apologise.

Occasionally we do substitute when we can source exactly the same product (usually vegetables) of a similar quality from Oaklands Park Garden, where we do our packing, but unlike some supermarkets we don’t feel comfortable substituting with a similar item without knowing your personal taste so we reimburse you the cost.

We at the packing team are just as frustrated as you are when we send out incomplete orders. We are always looking for ways to improve so hopefully incomplete orders will happen less in the future. Hopefully this message helps explain why some customers may have received incomplete orders recently.

Thank you for supporting the Food hub.

Judith, a member of the packing team