Policy Position

FDF's Ambition for Fewer Transport Miles

Embed environmental standards in our members' transport practices, including contracts with hauliers as they fall for renewal, to achieve fewer and friendlier food transport miles and to make a contribution to the Freight Transport Association administered Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme target to reduce the carbon intensity of freight operations by 8% by 2015 against a 2010 baseline. FDF members have been working with industry partners, including retailers and transport providers, to deliver this ambition through collaborative projects taking into account FDF’s 10 point checklist for greener food transport. In particular, FDF members committed to embedding environmental standards into their transport practices, including their contracts with road hauliers as they fall for renewal, to achieve 'fewer and friendlier' food transport miles.

A quantifiable transport target was included in the Five-fold Environmental Ambition in 2011 in the form of FDF members making a contribution to IGD’s ECR Sustainable Distribution Initiative target to save a cumulative 200 million HGV miles across the food and grocery sector over the period 2007-12. Results from IGD show that the food and grocery sector removed 204 million HGV miles from UK roads over 2007 – 2012 and achieved the 200 million target a year early despite tough trading conditions.

During 2013 we realigned our transport ambition to include making a contribution to the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme target to reduce the carbon intensity of freight operations by 8% by 2015 compared to 2010. This was in order to maintain a hard target now that the IGD HGV mile saving target had been achieved in 2012. The Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme is a collective, voluntary initiative, managed by the Freight Transport Association, open to any business which purchases fuel for one or more commercial vehicles.

Delivering Our Ambition

Our members have continued to embed environmental standards in their food transport practices, whether contracted out to third party hauliers or undertaken in house, to achieve fewer and friendlier food transport miles. This is reflected in many of the case studies in our latest Five-fold Environmental Ambition report.

Results for the first year of the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme showed that it delivered a 2.8% reduction in overall CO2e emissions in 2011 compared to 2010. This suggests that the Scheme is well on track to meeting its 2015 target.

We are now looking at further opportunities to publicise the work of FDF members involved in the Scheme with a view to generating more support from food and drink companies and/or their third party hauliers.

Our 10-Point Checklist

FDF’s 10 point checklist for greener food transport remains the cornerstone of the efforts by our members to reduce their transport impacts. It summarises transport environmental best practice and serves as a review aid for members to embed best practice in the day-to-day operation of their own fleets or for incorporation in the contractual relationship with third party hauliers where transport is contracted out.. The Checklist covers key issues such as maximising vehicle loading, the ratio of trailers to tractors, empty running, driver training and vehicle maintenance.



Few people in modern societies are self-sufficient in food and drink. It is generally provided on a commercial scale and transported from plough to plate within a globally competitive market. The contribution of transport to the environmental impact of food production is frequently over-estimated and in most cases accounts for only a small percentage of total footprint. But it does add directly to costs and also gives rise to a range of indirect effects, including traffic congestion. It is therefore a very clear example of where improved efficiency makes good business sense for everyone.

The goal is to ensure efficient food and drink distribution to meet consumer demand. Very few food and drink manufacturers have their own transport but contract it out to third party transport providers. Achieving 'fewer and friendlier' food transport miles requires joined-up industry action.

Footnote 1: Beyond primary production, e.g. the farmgate.
Footnote 2: Reducing the external costs of the domestic transportation of food by the food industry, Faber Maunsell, 2007 and research by AEA published in 2005.


More Information

Last reviewed: 28 Jan 2014