Non-executive chairman, Tangerine Confectionery
The recent Bernard Matthews bird flu outbreak has far-reaching consequences for the British food industry and although the impact on consumer confidence in food safety has been widely discussed, little has been said about the long-term impact on the environment.
One of the most striking aspects of the crisis was the amount of poultry being moved between Norfolk and Hungary. In recent years we have seen many UK businesses relocate their production to Poland, Hungary and other eastern European countries. One of the often ignored impacts of this move is that food previously produced in the UK now has to be imported by road, resulting in millions of additional vehicle miles and an increase in carbon emissions.
Growing concern from consumers on the environmental impact of food production is set to have a major impact on businesses that have relocated production facilities overseas.
Consumers recognise the need to do more personally to reduce the impact of climate change, but believe their own ability to make major change to a global problem is limited. As a result, they are looking to brand owners and retailers to provide products that are less damaging to the environment such as vehicles with lower emissions, packaging that can be recycled and food that is not driven halfway across Europe. Food brands have to respond because retailers and consumers will start choosing low carbon products to stock and buy. A sensible response is a return to production plants serving local, ie national markets. This will not only be beneficial in terms of carbon emissions, but may also help reduce the incidence of cross-border food safety issues.
At Tangerine Confectionery we are trying to ensure we minimise our carbon footprint by maintaining production in the UK and sourcing the vast majority of our ingredients locally.