Carmel Agrexco has unveiled a plan to reduce its reliance on road freight by transporting more produce by rail.

Under the plan, trialled earlier this year ahead of an October rollout, produce from the Arava region in Israel is rail-freighted to the ports of Ashdod or Haifa in temperature-controlled containers, which are then loaded on to ships to Trieste in Italy. There, the 45ft containers are put back on to trains to the Netherlands, from where they are transported to European destinations.

Agrexco currently brings 90% of its produce directly to European customers by ship, with 10% road freighted. But new European regulations from 2015, which would mean extra toll fees for lorries travelling internationally, meant it needed to find more cost-effective alternatives, it said. Road-freighted produce would arrive quicker and with a lower environmental footprint, it added.