The organic industry has rejected fears that Tesco’s re-entry into the organic veg box market represents a threat to existing box scheme operators.

As The Grocer revealed last week, Tesco’s launch of Soil and Seed - a new organic veg box scheme in and around London - comes six years after it first trialled veg boxes in stores (20 October). It has been billed as being more convenient than existing box schemes.

Abel & Cole founder Keith Abel shrugged off the significance of Tesco’s move.

“Am I scared of Tesco? No, we do something broader than just putting vegetables in a box,” he said. Instead, Abel & Cole was about provenance, seasonal produce and cooking from scratch, he added.

However, he admitted it was considering trialling Saturday delivery, allowing customers to receive deliveries two days a week instead of one.

Riverford Organic Farms managing director Rob Ward said Tesco’s re-entry was a positive step for organics as it could help grow sales. “If it helps build awareness about the importance of eating seasonal, fresh organic fruit and vegetables, it will inevitably help to build the market.”

The Soil Association expected the move would “deliver incremental sales” by extending choice for existing online Tesco shoppers, rather than cannibalising other box schemes, said trade consultant Finn Cottle.

Abel & Cole and Riverford were “really strong brands with great customer loyalty and an excellent offer,” added an Organic Trade Board spokeswoman.