UK snack firms focus on food miles

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Snack manufacturers Boots and Walkers are now focusing on locally
sourced ingredients for certain product ranges, as scrutiny
intensifies over food miles and their effect on the environment.

Most companies are now aware that consumers are increasingly worried about the affect that 'food miles', or the distance products and their ingredients travel before reaching the dinner plate. According to Packaged Facts, increasing environmental awareness, sparked by the popularity of Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth,​ as well as growing individual consumer responsibility for taking care of the earth has led consumers to seek local ingredient sourcing. In response, Boots has created a range of sandwiches made and sourced in one area of the UK, while Walkers Crisps claims that their crisps are all made out of potatoes in the country. BOOTS ​UK manufacturer Boots is now selling a range of four sandwiches made primarily using ingredients from one UK county - Yorkshire. John Foster, the baker responsible for the bread used for the sandwiches, told BakeryAndSnacks.com that he approached Boots as part of a long term project to encourage companies to reduce food miles. Foster estimates that the company now saves around 200 food miles per product, as the wheat growing, milling and bread baking for these 'provenance' sandwiches all occurs in the same region. "Although the sandwiches are sold throughout theUK, sourcing of such a major component fromYorkshirerather thanCanadaor the rest ofEuropehas significantly reduced the food miles and the carbon footprint of the product,"​ he said. The sandwiches are labelled 'Born & Bread in Yorkshire', and are available in cheddar cheese, salmon, prawn, ham and chicken flavours. WALKERS ​Crisp manufacturer Walkers claims to now make all of its crisps for the UK market with '100 per cent British potatoes', in an attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of the well-known snacks. "The British climate, with its wet weather, is ideal for growing potatoes,"​ said Jon Goldstone. "The move to 100 per cent British-sourced potatoes is helping to reduce Walkers' food miles and impact on the environment." ​To advertise the new patriotic bent, the company last Autumn created a television advert featuring former footballer Gary Linekar dancing in a potato field with a group of supposedly British farmers. The group, some of them dressed in Union Jack waistcoats, sing and dance in an attempt to show celebration for British rain and mud - supposedly the ideal growing conditions for potatoes. CARBON TRUST ​Both Walkers and Boots are members of the Carbon Trust, a private UK company set up by the government to develop policies addressing climate change such as food miles. The two companies were also the first in the country to sign up to the Carbon Trust's 'carbon reduction label' scheme last summer, which requires companies to communicate the embodied emissions of a product on its packaging. For example, Walker's state that 75g of greenhouse gases are given off in the production of a 33.5g pack of cheese and onion crisps. This total takes into account the energy used in the farming, manufacturing and packaging, as well as the petrol needed to distribute the snack across the country. Several other food manufacturers, including Cadbury, Coca-Cola and Muller Dairy, have also promised to measure all the carbon emitted in making some of their key products. Tom Delay, chef executive of the Carbon Trust, said in September that the willingness of UK processors to measure carbon emissions marks "a key stage in the development of a country-wide standard."

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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