Food miles is another way of thinking about carbon footprint, i.e. the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed by the end user. The more food miles that attach to a given food, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is.

Basically, this concept comes from the fact that 25% of all man-made carbon dioxide comes from road transport and most of that from passenger cars; 7% of greenhouse gases come from global logistics sector.  And of this road transport, 30% relates to food; the cost of food miles is around £9 billion each year for the UK economy, half of which is down to road congestion.

While we would love to say buy local, no food miles, we cannot do that as our business is about importing plant-based foods from warmer countries.  Nevertheless, we buy as many of our services and non-food inputs from local suppliers as possible.


Reduce carbon footprint of transport from Steenbergs to our end customers through:

  • Groupage of deliveries;
  • Working with transport businesses with demonstrable environmental policies;
  • Working with transport businesses that are carbon neutral or demonstrably bearing down on their carbon costs.

What Steenbergs Is Doing?

Unfortunately, the only way we can get our organic spices, herbs and tea to our factory in Ripon, North Yorkshire is by boat, plane and truck.  And the only way we can distribute it out to our customers is also by boat, plane and truck.  So what are we doing to minimize our negative impact on the environment.

Firstly, we do not own our own transport, so we are not physically adding to the current network - slightly lame we admit.  Furthermore, we utilize groupage services that seek to maximize their yield per vehicle by aiming to be 100% laden, and using large double length articulated lorries to transfer packages and pallets between hubs.

Secondly, we have sought to use transport businesses that have genuine environmental policies.  This has not been entirely satisfactory but we continue to believe that they will all improve.

Overall, we use Royal Mail and DPD for the delivery of packages, and Nidd Transport (part of the Palletline network) for pallet deliveries in the UK and Kuehne + Nagel for palletised transport into continental Europe.

Firstly, all these deliveries are consolidated, groupage deliveries and Steenbergs has no marginal impact on the core vehicle movements, except for the final "mile".  We make no direct deliveries.

Secondly, these businesses are committed to addressing their environmental impact.  Royal Mail has a detailed environmental strategy and policy, with an environmental management system that is accredited to ISO14001, with key targets of: reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% for 2020-21 (using 2004-05 as the baseline), reducing water consumption by 4% annually and diverting 95% from landfill.

DPD is carbon-neutral.  It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10% per parcel by 2020, using alternative energy vehicles where possible (mainly in cities), using load optimisation technologies, and offsetting the remaining transport emissions via EcoAct.

For pallets, we use Palletline.  Their "hub and spoke" operation uses approximately 100 large commercial vehicles each night, ensuring full load movements both ways. This prevents costly empty running and cuts down depot-to-depot running of smaller vehicles, resulting in annual fuel savings against depot-to-depot running and a reduction in traffic day time volume, thus less congestion.  The network could be better from a sustainability perspective and we will advocate for this during 2020 - 2030, as well as looking at alternative transport providers.

Kuehne + Nagel has a detailed environmental policy and strategy that covers sustainability and carbon emissions, and seeks to mitigate its carbon impact, and is audited and accredited to ISO14001.  Furthermore, they are carbon neutral for their direct carbon emissions now, i.e. in 2020 for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and are seeking to to be carbon neutral for all emissions by 2030, i.e. including Scope 3 emissions.