As part of Squirrel’s commitment to provide our customers with more information about where their food is from, we caught up with Vittorio Maschio, Chief Sales Officer at Natoora, our fruit and veg supplier. We find out why passion and traditional farming methods are the key to nutritious and flavourful produce!
How did Natoora begin?
Natoora started in France 15 years ago as an online retailer linking farmers and the public. The British arm of the business was launched 12 years ago but offers a wholesale service to mainly London based restaurants and food retailers.
Where are the Natoora offices/warehouse and how many people work there?
The offices and warehouse is based in Bermondsey and we have about 180 members of staff.
How does Natoora choose which farms it works with?
Natoora looks for farms that produce a high quality product that tastes great, but they must also be growing their food responsibly. Natoora always look for farms that use minimum amounts of pesticides and that have been farmed using traditional techniques rather than modern day methods (e.g. hydroponic methods whereby seeds don’t even come in contact with soil).
What about seasonality?
Seasonality has always been at the forefront of Natoora’s offering. We believe that food in its season is ripest and will therefore have the best flavour. About 50% of Natoora lines are seasonal but we also supply core lines that are sold all year round.
Where are your farms based?
We work with farms in the UK, Spain, Italy and France. We like to work with small farms that may otherwise get overlooked by large high street chains, as these smaller farms are unable to supply produce in the quantities that these businesses require. In addition, there are such strict aesthetic standards now that smaller farms cannot guarantee these standards and wastage is the result as well as huge financial losses for farmers.
How do you ensure the quality of the produce you supply is upheld?
Natoora representatives visit our farms we work with regularly to ensure best standards of farming are being adhered to. In addition we do regular quality control checks, especially looking at pesticide levels to ensure we’re never selling anything that contains high levels of chemicals.
What are Natoora’s growth plans?
We’ve currently got someone on the ground in New York as we’ll be expanding there in the coming year. Similarly to London, we’re looking to supply produce to New York retailers and restaurants who care about the quality of their products as much as we do. We would also like to encourage education through teaching farmers in the US about techniques and farming methods that support the production of different varieties of vegetables that otherwise get overlooked.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I love food! I started cooking when I was young around 6 or 7 years old and it’s always been such a big part of my life. My mother taught us the importance of seasonality at such a young age, for example, we were only allowed peaches when they were in season; so for 9 months of the year I was always dreaming of peaches!
What’s your favourite seasonal fruit and vegetable?
For fruit – I love any stone fruit and for veg, it’s got to be artichokes.