Fairmiles Seeks More Balanced Approach to Airfreighted Produce. Upcoming Broadcast on Beanstalk Global to Highlight the Initiative.

A new campaign for a fair transition towards net zero kicked-off this month. Called Fairmiles, it calls on policy makers from government and the private sector to consider sustainability impacts on developing countries when pursuing carbon reduction strategies which seek to minimise so-called ‘food miles’ particularly with regard to airfreighted produce.

The campaign aims to engage key stakeholders in the retail, government and charity sectors to highlight the importance of maintaining crucial trade links with developing countries and to make recommendations for reducing emissions without marginalising vulnerable communities.

“Climate change is real and demands an urgent and radical response if we are to adapt to the significant threat it poses to our planet. However, with increasing pressure on organisations to act, there is a growing risk that corporate net zero strategies that seek to reduce emissions by reducing imported or airfreighted food, end up alienating and negatively impacting economically less developed countries, to the detriment of livelihoods in rural communities,” said Simon Derrick, global head of sustainability of Blue Skies, one of the companies behind the new initiative.

“The implementation of carbon reduction policies which target airfreighted fresh produce can disproportionately curtail opportunities for low-carbon agricultural products that support livelihoods in developing nations.This trade is a lifeline for millions of individuals in some of the world’s most impoverished and vulnerable communities, thus underscoring the need for carbon reduction policies to attain climate justice.”

Blue Skies supplies airfreighted fresh-cut fruit to retailers in the UK and across Europe, employing over 5,000 people in 10 factories spanning Ghana, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Benin and the UK. Its business model is built on the principle of adding value at source, which means that, wherever possible, fruit is cut, prepared, and packed in the same community that it is grown. This allows Blue Skies to return a higher margin to the communities that produce the fruit, and to harvest the produce at its optimal maturity, helping to ensure the best possible nutrition and flavour.

The Fairmiles launch was attended by 15 organisations representing African fresh produce businesses, the air cargo industry, academia and the international development sector. In addition to raising awareness of the issue among key stakeholders and the public, it hopes to conduct research on the impact of air freighted produce; agree best-practice guidelines for the industry and translate its aims into an action plan with quantifiable targets.

To create further awareness of the initiative as well as discussing the facts and figures and what is hoped to be achieved especially as we head towards the COP28 climate conference in Dubai late this year a number of group founders recently went on a Beanstalk Global Broadcast to discuss the initiative.

On the Broadcast was:

  • Dr Ebenezer Laryea – Associate Professor in International Sustainable Development Law at the University of Northampton and Chair of the University’s Centre for Sustainable Business Practices.
  • James MacGregor – development economist and author of the ‘Fair Miles: recharting the food miles map’ published in 2009 by Oxfam and IIED.
  • Jodie Keane – Senior Research Fellow with the International Economic Development Group at the Overseas Development Institute. 
  • Alistair Djimatey – Public Affairs Manager at Blue Skies
  • Simon Derrick – Head of Sustainability at Blue Skies, a fruit manufacturer that airfreights prepared produce from Africa and South America
  • Max MacGillivray – Editor in Chief of Beanstalk Global

To watch the recording of the Broadcast, just click the picture as below. To listen to the Podcast, just click the Podcast icon.

Filmed 24th of November 2023.

Fairmiles has been formed by a partnership between Blue Skies, Air France-KLM, the University of Northampton and Beanstalk.Global.

For more information, please CLICK HERE or contact simon.derrick@blueskies.com or info@beanstalk.global.

To join the Roundtable in person, it is in London on Friday 15th December, 3-5pm, for details just CLICK THIS LINK.

With thanks to the Fresh Produce Journal for use of excerpts from their recent article to highlight Fairmiles. To see their full article, just CLICK THIS LINK