21 January 2021
Thank YOU and a year on...
Firstly many thanks to all our many existing customers and those new to Steenbergs who have supported us and we hope we've been able to enable you, even if a little bit, to create and keep going amidst the turmoil of the recent 12 months. We hope you are all keeping well and safe.
This time last year we'd just put in the living roof at 11 Hallikeld Close and were in the process of installing solar panels at the same unit.
There were blue sunny skies and we were all looking forward to a reasonably calm year, as far as we could see, how wrong were we?
A year down the line and we are so grateful that we were able to have the time and ability to be true to our core values and install these. During last year with all the ups and downs the panels have been producing energy and the roof has become happily established, helping create oxygen, as well as looking attractive. It has helped enable us to cut our CO2 emissions in the last 5 years by over 75% and by the end of this year they will be zero.*(More of that another time).
We also managed to move the plastic film that we use for packaging our stuffings, loose leaf tea and Old Hamlet mulling sugar and spices to one that is plastic free - plant based - and compostable. So well on our way to going plastic free as a company. We also moved many of the mini bulk to paper with a heat seal (plastic free liner) which is also compostable or recyclable with other paper products. (It doesn't work for everything but its a great start and new products come on the market the whole time so we will keep looking for better eco friendly products). Most of this we managed to achieve or had put in motion before the pandemic hit at the end of March with the first lockdown.
We know for everyone it has been a tough year whether you've been ill, or lost someone close to you shielding, not seeing relatives and friends, maybe not being able to work. Everyone has had different challenges in the last 12 months and we're all very aware of that. We've been very inspired by how people have adapted whether its moving your life online, such as homeschooling, whilst Sophie's yoga and book clubs are now online via zoom, or setting up new businesses; or creating local delivery services or remote support networks to help self-isolators, shielders and those in quarantine. Technology may have helped to keep us connected but it is nature that is helping to keep us centred.
We are worried as to the impact of Covid 19 on people's livelihoods and income and support the work of food banks which are sadly so needed at this time, donating to our local Ripon Food Bank.
So how have lockdowns and the pandemic affected us as a company? We have stayed open throughout, even with some staff shielded and we've been working to ensure that everyone is working safely in their own space (or in their household bubbles). This has meant that admin staff are limited to ensure separate rooms for separate people and sometimes orders took a little longer to get out at peak times as with social distancing getting in additional staff has not been an option.
It has been a constant juggle of trying to manage orders, with staffing that changes from day-to-day as we have all got used to the concepts of self isolation, quarantine etc.
We can no longer have customers popping by for orders and masks are worn throughout the buildings. At Steenbergs, we've always worked in different areas so social distancing hasn't been too hard to achieve, although this has now spilled out into socially distanced breaks and moving between rooms with more space between staff.
But it has been really stressful to get it all sorted - so huge thanks and praise to all our staff, our suppliers and especially for the distribution providers who have been real saints, literally keeping it all moving. (DPD have been delivering weekends and picking up from us on Saturdays where necessary and many of their staff have worked weeks without breaks.)
Surprising challenges in the last 12 months have been supplies of glass jars and cardboard packaging including cardboard cases, rather than spices and herbs. These have hopefully been overcome but it added to the pressure in production.
In terms of ingredients there have been issues with organic ground cumin and there have been problems with a poor harvest in cardamom where the price is now rocketing. Vanilla is still very high in price. Turmeric price is also on the increase. There are a few other products such as celery powder which has proved trickier to source than normal. Rest assured we are on the case to secure supply moving forwards, as much as we are able.
It's veganuary time again. As a vegan company, you know that all our products on the Steenbergs website are vegan and we will be adding additional vegan recipes to help inspire you, working with a variety of great recipe developers including The Vegan Larder, Gourmet Glow, Niki Bakes, our own Emily, The Secret Yorkshire Cook, Tamara Eats Devilled Egg Cookery School (hope you took advantage of the amazing festive e-book currently offered for free on our website, normally £3.99 - loads of inspiration) and Cook & Capture. We are shifting the emphasis of the recipes towards vegan and vegetarian ones.
What will 2021 bring? We will continue to add to our positive impact on the environment, more later. We are also working on the impact of Brexit in terms of who we can sell to and the paperwork and costs of doing so - we now have an office in Cork, Ireland - and of course we are all still working in the pandemic and that looks likely to be the case for a while.
So until we can all have a cup of tea and a slice of cake with our favourite people, who are not in our household bubble, we all need to keep moving forwards and keep in touch remotely. We are all grateful to everyone who has helped and supported us.
We hope that you are all keeping safe and wish you all a happy 2021 and hopefully by the end of the year things will be better for all. Many thanks for your continued support, patience and understanding.
* This is Scope 1, Scope 2 and directly controllable Scope 3 emissions (water, waste and business travel)