An open letter to Food Manufacturers, Importers and Freight Companies

Elysian Foods
Park Road, Miramar
Wellington 6022

As the new owner of a small, food manufacturing company, I have had what can only be described as “unexpected” challenges to importing chilled goods from Australia and Europe. I’ve also been surprised to learn quite how large the difference in both carbon emissions and freight costs are between the various air and sea freight options available.

I’ve learned that goods transported by air produce an average of forty-seven times more green house gas units than if the same goods were transported by sea. Outside of an efficient rail system, ships are by far the most carbon-effective way to transport materials. Given we’re an island nation, sea freight is really the only carbon-effective option for importing. They are also the cheapest, costing half to one-third of the cost of air freight (for the volumes that I’m dealing with), potentially making a huge difference to business profitability.

The problem, for small food manufacturers like myself, is that our volumes are relatively small, one or two pallets at a time, certainly not enough to fill an entire container.

As most of you will be aware there is no regular LCL Chilled Freight service across the Tasman at the moment. I find it hard to believe that this is due to a lack of demand. Over the last few weeks I have spoken to around 15 food manufacturers, importers and freight agents, and this is what I found:

  • All of them confirm that they have a healthy demand to import chilled freight from Australia.
  • Nearly everyone would use chilled sea freight for some or all of their imports if there was a regular and reliable service available
  • In some cases the volumes being air freighted are staggering – tonnes per month. Much of this freight is not that time sensitive.

As for the environmental impact, you cannot fail to have noticed the increasing pressure on supermarkets to stop the use of single use plastic shopping bags. This is just the most visible and current example of consumer pressure on the food and retail industry to effect change. There has always been interest from consumers on the environmental impact of food production and it’s only going to intensify.

I recognise that I’m new to the industry and Elysian Foods is a small food manufacturing business. I don’t (yet) have any proposed solutions to this problem, but I know that we need a regular and reliable sea freight service option. I’m very keen to hear your thoughts on this, in particular if you are interested in working together to establish a viable sea freight across the Tasman.

Kind regards,

Toby Green
Owner, Elysian Foods

Phone: 0274 323 326     Email: toby@elysianfoods.co.nz

 

¹ For more on ships – including ship design and “slow steaming” – as a carbon-reducing transport option, see Paul Hawken, ed. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (New York: Penguin), p. 140-141.