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Green Business Network

Putting the Green Squeeze on supply chains

Five years ago, Simon James gave up a career in the oil industry to set up his own company producing organic juice. The resulting company - Twisted Juice – is now going from strength to strength, primarily on the grounds that its products are healthy, organic, have an excellent shelf life, and – perhaps most importantly – taste good.

A range of eight twisted juices are currently on offer from the company, whose customers range from larger department stores, such as John Lewis and Selfridges, service stations, and a host of small independent operations, including coffee shops, delicatessens, sandwich bars, and conference centres. A growing amount of the company’s juices are now being exported.

In fact, the company has been so successful it has already notched up six major awards: Food from Britain New Exporter Award, Innovations and Trends Award from SIAL (Paris), Soil Association Organic Food Award, and three Great Taste Awards (foodie Oscars).

Much of the nuts and bolts of the production of Twisted Juice’s product range is outsourced to specialist companies. Organic fruit from overseas is sourced via trading houses in the Netherlands, and is either shipped or road freighted into a specialist squeezing and bottling company in Oxford. “We never air freight any of our products,” says Simon.

The juice bottles are totally recyclable and all outer packaging for transportation is made from 100% recycled cardboard. No plastic shrink wrap is used. All by-products from making the product are sent to local farmers for pig food. In addition, where possible, Simon sources fruit from within the UK to reduce the environmental impacts of shipping and transportation.

Twisted Juice's organic fruit juice rangeIt’s unlikely that you’ll see Twisted Juices in any of the major supermarket chains as Simon tends to deal mainly with operations that are more concerned with paying a realistic price for an organic product rather than cheap products produced in bulk. This means that his major customers tend to be upmarket department stores, service stations, and a host of independent coffee shops, delicatessens, sandwich shops, conference centres, etc.

The business works on an outsourcing model (trading houses source the fruit, production is done by a company in Oxford, and transportation is dealt with by specialists in that area), but Simon has overall responsibility for sales and for overseeing how his product is made.

While the organisation has a strong ethical, health and environmental bias, Simon approached GBN for help with potentially improving the performance of his company and to help him determine the kinds of questions he should be asking of his supply chain.

GBN suggested three main areas that Simon could look at in terms of environmental impacts - sourcing ingredients, manufacturing process, and transportation – and also that he could start to move into the area of corporate social responsibility. This is particularly important where fruit is being sourced from developing nations. He is also looking at expanding his product lines to include more locally sourced produce – particularly juices made from root vegetables.

Simon is now looking to establish more substantial audit trails relating to the areas his raw ingredients are sourced from. He will be talking to the manufacturing plant to ensure that resource efficiency programmes relating to energy use are in place. In addition, he will ensure that transportation of goods is done in the most efficient way possible – for instance, ensuring loads are not just full transporting products but also backfilled (full on the way back as well).

Other areas he will be looking at in the future will also closing the supply chain loop – if by-products of his manufacturing process are sent for recycling, can he use remade or recycled materials to produce items such as packaging, marketing materials and plastic containers for instance.