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Airfreighting organic food faces UK ban

by 5m Editor
30 January 2007, at 11:23am

UK - UK processors may forced to source organic foods closer to home after a certification body proposed an outright ban on airfreighting such products.

A ban is just one of the measures the Soil Association may introduce to respond to the increasing criticism of the environmental damage caused by transporting foods great distances. Air-freighting organic food allows processors to market fresh produce which is out of season in the UK, but the Soil Association said it was concerned about the growing environmental damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions from flights carrying food around the world.

Airfreighting of organic produce is a small percentage of the total supplied to the UK. But with the entire sector growing at thirty per cent last year – faster than any other food market according to Soil Association statistics – imports by plane will increase if unchecked.

Speaking at the annual conference in Cardiff last week, Patrick Holden, Soil Association director said there was a strong demand from the public and many organic certificate licensees to reduce "food miles" -- a measure used by regulators to compare transport distances.

"Although there is very little airfreighting of organic produce, we believe there is an urgent and pressing need to make every contribution to curbing climate change that we can,” Holden said. ”This is a complex issue though: especially for producers in developing countries where it involves equity and ethical trading issues, and that's why we shall actively engage a wide-range of stakeholders to ensure we get it right.”

During 2005, supermarkets were sourcing two-thirds of salad vegetables and more than a third of other vegetables from abroad. Overall, supermarkets, which are responsible for about 75 per cent of all organic sales, imported 34 per cent of all such foods they sold in 2005.

According to the UK's Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the transport of food by air has the highest CO2 emissions per tonne, and is the fastest growing mode.

Source: Food Navigator.com

5m Editor