Riverford Wicked Leeks

how it's transported

Last week I wrote about the tight rope we walk in tryingto maximise UK provenance of your boxes (around 90% for veg and 80% for fruit and veg combined) while importing at critical times to maintain enough variety. But why does anyone care? Personally I am not bellicose about my tomatoes being British, particularly as during the winter they will come from a greenhouse, heated at huge environmental cost. In order to make sensible decisions it is important to understand not just how far the produce has travelled but how it is transported and grown. The relative CO2 emissions caused by different methods of transportation are (figures courtesy of Defra): deep sea freight 1, short sea 2, rail 2, truck 6.5, long haul air 38 and short haul air 105. This is the reason that we never airfreight. Even without airfreight, the CO2 implications of different ways of getting produce to Riverford are dramatic.

It is extraordinary how efficient deep sea freight can be. Bananas from Dominican Republic cause less then half the emissions of produce trucked from Andalucia. As a direct result of this work we have now organised sea freight from Morocco and received our first oranges, peppers and courgettes by sea last week. The produce is grown very near the port of Agadir and is shipped directly to Portsmouth. The journey time is five days compared to four by truck but, as the chart shows, the emissions are cut by a factor of six.

For the future we have developed a ready reckoner to calculate the emissions associated with every box we pack. Next year we hope use this to gently nudge you towards the lower emission boxes, hopefully without being branded big brother food fascists.

Guy Watson