British prawns go to China to be shelled
20.5.2007 (Sunday Times)
Supermarkets and food producers are taking their products on huge globetrotting
journeys, despite pledging to cut their carbon emissions. Scottish prawns are
being hand-shelled in China, Atlantic haddock caught off Scotland is being prepared
in Poland and Welsh cockles are being sent to Holland to be put in jars before
going on sale in Britain.
The Sunday Times has found that home-grown products are being transported thousands of miles
overseas for processing before being put on sale back in Britain.
Meanwhile, products grown overseas are taking circuitous routes to Britain. African-grown
coffee is being packed 3,500 miles away in India, Canadian prawns are processed
in Iceland, and Bolivian nuts are being packed in Italy.
While ethical consumers have long opted for organic and fair trade products,
there is now an increasing focus on cutting "food miles", which generate unnecessary
carbon emissions, contributing to global warming.
Scampi: Dawnfresh, a Scottish seafood company that supplies supermarkets and other
large retailers, cut 70 jobs last year after deciding to ship its scampi more
than 5,000 miles to China to be shelled by hand, then shipped back to the River
Clyde in Scotland and breaded for sale in Britain.
Haddock: Tesco sends its Atlantic haddock for processing to Poland where labour costs
are lower. It is then driven more than 850 miles to Tesco’s depot in Daventry,
Coffee: Traidcraft coffee, sold at Sainsbury’s, is made from beans grown in Bukoba,
Tanzania. Once the coffee is cultivated, it is driven 656 miles to Dar-es-Salaam
and then shipped 3,250 miles to Vijayawada in India where it is packed. The coffee
is loaded back on the ships and transported another 5,000 miles to Southampton.
It is then driven 330 miles to Gateshead and is finally driven to Leeds for distribution
to Sainsbury’s stores.
Nuts: Similarly, French-grown walnuts sold in Waitrose are sent to Naples to be packed.
The retailer’s Brazil nuts from South America are also transported to Italy before
being sent to Britain.
Cockles: Welsh cockles – produced by Van Smirren Seafoods – are driven across Britain
to Dover and then transported to Yerseke in Holland. They are pickled and put
in jars before being sent back to Britain.
Languoustines: Young’s Seafood, criticised last year for sending langoustines to Thailand
for processing, has commissioned a study on the environmental impact of its decision.
It insists there was a "marginal" impact on carbon emissions because the Far East
operations are done by hand, rather than by machine.