Green miles an “outdated concept”

CONSUMER pressure on the perishable-food segment of airfreight is declining with recent studies that confirm that ‘green miles’ is a misleading concept.

Supermarkets have been coming under increasing pressure from consumers for stocking food out of season, especially that flown in from around the world, thanks to its alleged impact on green house gas emissions.

However, as the airfreight industry has been trying to tell the public for some time, it’s not as simple as that. With food accounting for a third of most people in the UK’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, choosing locally sourced food seems a logical step to reducing your emissions, but transportation actually only accounts for 10 per cent of the UK’s food chain emissions.

Quite often, for example, fruit picked in season is then refrigerated for half a year before being sold. So, although local, the emissions associated with refrigeration are greater than those shipping fruit from the other hemisphere, where it is in season.

Adrian Williams, a leading resources researcher at the National Resources Management Centre at Cranfield University, says: “The term ‘food miles’ is an outdated concept that doesn’t adequately describe the environmental impact of food production and distribution.”

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