Nestlé has opened a £35m water bottling plant in Buxton as part of its pledge to invest £500m in the UK over three years.

The plant – on the edge of the historic Derbyshire spa town – replaces an existing factory which traces its roots back 101 years.

But the new site, which safeguards approximately 100 jobs, is designed to boost Nestle’s capacity to bottle and sell mineral water in the UK.

The plant bottles both Buxton branded and Nestlé Pure Life water for sale across the UK.

But the design of the new plant is such that it will allow Nestlé to take advantage of the resurgence in bottled water.

Individual consumption of bottled water in the UK has risen from an average of 30 litres a year in 2008 to 41 litres a year in 2012, but remains far behind the average 100 litres a year drunk in the US or 180 litres in Italy.

The site brings together bottling and warehousing for the first time in Buxton, reducing costs and increasing production capacity.

The new factory is said by Nestle to be one of the most efficient bottling facilities in Europe, reducing packaging by around 25pc and energy consumption by 20pc compared to the existing factory, which has now closed.

Nestle chief executive Paul Bulcke, who opened the site, said innovation is at the heart of what the Swiss conglomerate does best as he welcomed the official opening.

“The Buxton factory is an excellent example of how we continue to invest in Europe despite tough economic conditions,” he continued.

The Buxton plant is one of a number of UK sites earmarked for investment.

As part of the £500m pledge, made by the company in 2012, Nestlé is spending £310m at Tutbury in Derbyshire to continue to modernise its coffee manufacturing plant, creating 400 new jobs.

It is also spending £40m at its Nescafé site in Dalston, Cumbria, and £20m on its seasonal confectionery business in Halifax.

Prior to the £500m pledge, the conglomerate spent £200m upgrading its chocolate and confection factory in York.

Nestlé is one of the largest employers in the food industry in the UK, with more than 7,000 staff.

It’s UK business has annual sales of £2.5bn, around 10pc of which come from exports.

The relocated site involved the construction of a 3.5km pipeline from the old plant to allow the water to supply the new facility.

In addition, as the factory is located on the edge of the High Peak national park, it is clad in recycled stone and its roof is wavy to fit in with the contours of the landscape.

Campaigners against the Radlett Strategic Rail Freight Interchange are hoping to reach 10,000 signatures on a petition aimed at stopping Hertfordshire County Council selling the land to HelioSlough.

The terminal is important for the strategic develop of rail freight as it will be the only major rail freight interchange in the North and West quadrants around London and should enable a much higher proportion of freight to use rail.

The petition currently has some 8,400 signatures and action group STRIFE (Stop the Rail Freight Exchange) aims to trigger a council debate on the issue.

The government said it would back the £400m rail freight terminal at the former Radlett aerodrome near St Albans just before Christmas.

The decision by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government was been welcomed by industry organisations including the Freight Transport Association and the Rail Freight Group.

Join the free lecture or listen by webinar.  If you are involved in running or designing cold stores you will be interested in the IOR Technical paper recently added to the website.

The paper ‘Initiatives to Reduce Energy Use in Cold Stores” will outline the results of a europe-wide study into the most effective energy initiatives across a wide range of actual sites.  Judith Evans FInstR will give the talk and answer questions on behalf of the consortium who collected and analysed results over a significant period of time. You can join the IoR on 7th March at the Arden Hotel Birmingham for this free talk starting at 5.15pm based on the paper;  download the paper or register to attend via webinar

Leaders of one of the UK’s most successful logistics firms have insisted that the country’s ports and rail freight need to be classed as one single entity.

GB Railfreight (GBRf) welcomed the Transport Select Committee’s ‘Access to Ports’ inquiry, which was launched towards the end of 2012.

The organisation started the investigation in order to assess how accessible the nation’s ports are and what improvements can be made.

GBRf operates 650 cargo trains each week, so it is well placed to offer advice on the situation and bosses feel rail freight and ports are both crucial to the UK’s future economic success.

Managing director of the firm John Smith urged policy makers to do all they can to improve rail links to important coastal towns and cities.

“It is crucial [ports] are readily accessible to bulk and multi-modal rail freight to allow them to work at maximum efficiency and be utilised to their full potential,” he remarked

The demand for port-centric warehouses is growing rapidly in the UK, it has been claimed. Leaders at Tilbury-based The Logistics Terminal (TLT) confirmed the company has seen a 100 per cent increase in throughput in the last year, as firms continue to ship their goods in smaller quantities.

An average of 160 containers pass through the logistics hub every week and TLT partner Richard Newbold believes this way of distributing cargo is better because it cuts down on “over-handling”. By storing items in Tilbury rather than a distribution centre in another part of Britain, businesses can reduce the amount of transportation required to get their goods to their final destination.

“Quite simply, our solution allows businesses to gain greater control over both supply-chain overheads and the timely delivery of their goods,” Mr Newbold explained.

In general terms, the UK’s ports have been relatively quiet in recent months. Government figures published in December indicated that overall port traffic was down by two per cent year-on-year in the 12 months to the end of the third quarter of 2012.

Britain’s biggest supermarkets have been defending their practices after a report suggested that up to half of the world’s food is thrown away.  The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said the waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness.

The British Retail Consortium said supermarkets have “adopted a range of approaches” to combat waste.

They also lobbied the EU to relax laws stopping the sale of misshaped produce.

According to the report – Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not – from the UK-based institution, as much as half of the world’s food, amounting to two billion tonnes worth, is wasted.

Its study claims that up to 30% of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance. ‘Waste of resources’
The report said that between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year went to waste.
It suggested that half the food bought in Europe and the US was thrown away.

Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population – as well as those in hunger today.

“It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food.

“The reasons for this situation range from poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure through to supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through buy-one-get-one-free offers.”

He told the BBC’s Today programme: “If you’re in the developing world, then the losses are in the early part of the food supply chain, so between the field and the marketplace.

“In the mature, developed economies the waste is really down to poor marketing practices and consumer behaviour.”

Dr Fox called on “governments, development agencies and organisation like the UN” to work to help change people’s mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices.

But the BRC questioned the report’s link between promotions and food waste, highlighting a UK government survey that showed buy-one-get-one-free offers were becoming rarer.

“Retailers want to help customers make their money go further,” it said.

“They’ve also adopted a range of approaches to help people make the best use of the food they buy, including giving clear storage advice and recipe ideas, and offering a wider range of portion sizes.”

It added that “using more of the crop to cut food waste and increase sustainable production is an objective for all retailers. This is how we are exceeding government targets for food waste.”

The supermarket giant Morrisons said it was working with farmers and suppliers to eliminate wastage.
A spokesperson said: “We understand how important it is to tackle the issue of food waste and make an effort to do so in every area of our business – from our manufacturing facilities right through to store.

“We don’t currently offer buy-one-get-one-free offers on our fruit and vegetables, have relaxed our specifications on this produce to accept more ‘wonky’ crops and offer clear labelling for customers.”

Toine Timmermans, from Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, described the IME publication as a “relevant report that draws attention to an important issue and topic”.

But he added: “Based on years of research I find the conclusion about the amount of food waste (1.2-2 billion tonnes) unrealistically high.”
Tristram Stuart, from food waste campaign group Feeding the 5000, said: “Amazingly, there has been no systematic study of food waste at the farm level either in the UK or elsewhere in Europe or the US.

“In my experience, it’s normal practice for farmers to assume that 20% to 40% of their fruit and vegetable crops won’t get to market, even if they are perfectly fit for human consumption.”

Tom Tanner, from the Sustainable Restaurants Association, said: “It is the power of major retailers – convenience shopping and supermarkets on everyone’s doorstep, you can nip out and buy a ready made meal in two minutes rather than make use of what’s in your fridge.”

Businesses and organisations with cooling towers in the west of Scotland are facing checks to ensure they are managing legionella risks appropriately.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities are currently visiting cooling towers and evaporative condensers in Glasgow, North Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire.

The checks are expected to inform future visits to similar sites across Britain.

The inspections follow the publication of a safety notice in July warning of the legionella risks posed by cooling towers and evaporative condensers and are part a wider initiative to promote better control of legionella.

It follows an HSE review of outbreaks in 2011 that identified cooling towers and evaporative condensers as being responsible for the majority of the most significant outbreaks in Britain in the past 10 years.

David Snowball, the HSE’s Director for Scotland & Northern England said:

“We are doing these visits to focus businesses’ attention on ensuring they are doing what is required both to protect their workers and the wider public.

“Our research has confirmed that cooling towers pose the biggest legionella risk.  If we, or local authority inspectors, find that the appropriate controls are not in place, we will take enforcement action.  Inspections are a valuable part of our regulatory action.  They are however no substitute for companies meeting their legal duties on a daily basis, given that legionella levels can increase to high levels in a matter of days or weeks.”

Maurice Young Consulting is able to work with companies to audit their current procedures and to provide advice and encourage effective ways of working.  If you would like an independant ‘health check’ of your current legionella systems and procedures why not contact us.

Forklift vehicles play an increasingly important role in the UK’s logistics industry and a good truck driver can really help delivery firms save a lot of time.

The machines are widely used to unload or “tip” lorries when they have reached their destination and sites that are on the ball can get this done quickly and safely, so the HGV driver can get on their way.

In order to improve safety standards further, forklifts will soon have to undergo more rigorous fatigue testing.  Manufacturers will need to ensure the chains used on the forklift masts meet new ISO 4347 regulations.

The updated legislation is expected to be formalised in the next 12 months.

The amount of speculative warehouse and logistics centre building in the UK will increase as a result of a change in legislation next year, it is suggested.

From October 2013, such sites will be provided with exemption from empty property rates and experts have predicted there will be a spurt in new construction as a result.

Speaking to Logistics Manager about the alteration in the law introduced earlier this month by chancellor George Osborne in his 2012 Autumn Statement, David Jones of GVA suggested that more warehouses will be built as the move “will remove a hurdle to developers concerned about the rates obligations they will face on more speculative development”.

Andrew Griffiths of ProLogis added that it is looking into the possibility of speculative development, as there is a shortage of facilities within the south-east.

However, developers and landlords with existing vacant buildings face continuing to be charged 100 per cent rates.

Recent figures indicated performance in the European logistics property sector remains strong, with relatively high levels of take-up recorded over the third quarter of 2012, despite the economic crisis in the eurozone.

Food manufacturers may soon be made to provide clear and accurate information on the country of origin of meat, Defra has announced.

The government has reportedly said it had been demanding stronger labelling rules across the EU for past three years, and was now implementing these rules in the UK.
It said it would be legislating on country-of-origin labelling of meat, the minimum font size on labels, declaration of nanomaterial ingredients and a requirement to state the plant origin of the oil in the product.
However, it added that country-of-origin labelling would be “subject to [European] Commission rules”.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, David Heath explained the government was “tightening” rules to make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions. He said: “We fought long and hard in Europe for more honest labelling, so that people can make up their own minds about what they eat.
“We are making it easier for consumers to know what is in the food and drink they buy, while at the same time cutting red tape for businesses.”
Eblex, the levy body for the British beef and lamb industry, said country-of-origin labelling would be a positive move that would help consumers when shopping. Eblex said: “Any legislation introduced to help consumers make better-informed decisions about the food they buy is to be welcomed. Clear country-of-origin labelling is an important part of this.”
Defra said it would provide a reasonable period of time for the industry to implement the changes and added that this would minimise costs. Also, businesses will not have to immediately re-label every product to comply with the law and can absorb costs in planned re-labelling.
Andrea Martinez-Inchausti assistant director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said she was interested to see how Defra would take the legislation forward. She added: “There are still a lot of elements that are to be agreed, such as the detail behind the new provisions on country-of-origin labelling.”