I have received my first box from delivery company Flavrbox. They deliver tasting boxes with selections of food products from suppliers you are unlikely to find in your local Tesco Express... Here's what I thought.
Back in 2003, an Internet lifetime or two ago, I first read a post titled "Whatever happened to serendipity?" At the time I was dabbling with "moblogging", an Internet dinosaur word for "taking photos with my phone while out and about", something everyone today do all the time...
That's beside the point though, the important thing here is serendipity. Lovely word:
Key here are "by chance" and "in a happy way". Modern shopping, done online, simply doesn't support that very well. Compare the curated start page and uninspiring search form of iTunes with walking into an old vinyl record store (if you can recall...) to browse through the plastic crates filled with dog eared album sleeves and you know what I mean.
As online shopping is taking over in all kinds of product segments, making us go out shopping less and traders on high streets struggle, it gets harder and harder to find those random new products that bring delight and suprise.
So what has that got to do with food and Flavrbox? Well, they package serendipity. And send it to you, once a month. The team at Flavrbox combine several exciting trends like curation, local, artisanal and subscription to inject some chance of finding new favourites to keep in your cupboards and show off to your friends at dinner parties.
This month, October, I got a free sample box from Flavrbox. Luckily I was working from home the day it arrived as it is way too big to fit through the mailbox... I must admit I felt quite excited about opening it up, here's what it looked like:
There was a fair amount of items in there, along with a leaflet introducing the producers, telling a bit about their respective stories. Nice touch, getting some context and personality along with a product definitely makes me appreciate it more.
According to Flavrbox they include 5 to 6 different suppliers in every box, and since the content of the boxes change all the time I won't go into great detail about the items that were in mine. Suffice to say that I have tried all of it, and very much enjoyed it. Especially the miso paste from Source Foods (delicious as a broth, and tomorrow I will be using it to make miso glazed aubergines) and the breakfast cereal from Bendy Legs. Surprisingly, I can't find either product on the Flavrbox website...
And there's the rub. Once you have received a tasting box or two, if you find something you want to keep buying you can of course order it from the Flavrbox website like you would on any product selling website.
You could say that the tasting boxes make for a clever way to get paid to send marketing and samples to gullible consumers, but I like their idea, and not just because I work in a similar line of business (I work at Jessica's Recipe Bag, delivering recipes and ingredients to your door).
Flavrbox fills a real gap, in my opinion. As a small producer it must be so hard to reach out and find customers enough to carry your business, and getting "discovered" and included on the shelves of a major supermarket or specialist shop takes a long time and probably a lot of money in order to step up production to meet demand... Combining that with consumers desire to find new stuff sounds like bridging a gap to me.
It isn't cheap, a one off box costs £20 pounds. You can shave a few quid off that by committing to a subscription, but I am not sure I'd like a monthly box. Once a quarter, more likely. On that time scale, £7 a month for a box with goodies (at a value that must be much higher than the £20) to your door every now and then isn't a bad deal.
Will I buy another one? I think so. But first I need to finish my lovely granola, and the surprisingly good vegan chocolate from Mr Popple (great example of a product I would NEVER pick up if it was staring me in the face in a shop...). Give it a go. You find Flavrbox on Facebook, Twitter, and can browse their products on their website.