Jordan's new green challenge

One of the country's leading specialist breakfast cereal manufacturers, Jordans, has bold plans to highlight food miles on its products.The family company, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, is looking at a new "ecology" label to go alongside the ingredients on packs of cereals.

One of the country's leading specialist breakfast cereal manufacturers, Jordans, has bold plans to highlight food miles on its products.

The family company, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, is looking at a new “ecology” label to go alongside the ingredients on packs of cereals.

Bill Jordan, who pioneered the concept of a healthy cereal bar more than 25 years ago, has transformed the traditional flour milling business into a highly respected and trusted breakfast cereals brand.

Now, his executive team, led by company's environmental adviser, Tim Nevard, is looking for the next step in developing a greener message to consumers.


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Mr Nevard, who is also a trustee of the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, near Fakenham, said that discussions have already started on producing accurate and reliable information on the food miles concept with one of the trusted and espected authorities in the field, the Stockholm Institute.

“We're looking at the best way to come up with something that is not just making a big claim like the Conservation Grade. It has to be something that is backed up by pretty good research,” he said.

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“This is the Jordans axiom. It has got to be the truth and that is really important. The University of York are a leader in the food miles and particularly with the food industry. We're beginning a dialogue with them,” said Mr Nevard.

However, the whole field of environmental ethics was highly complicated, particularly when it came to issues of the carbon footprint, he warned.

Mr Jordan and his brother, David, met regional agricultural journalists to outline the company's achievements and also future ambitions for the group, founded in 1855 and which now employs a total of 350 staff around Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

Holme Mill, the only survivor of an estimated 400 water mills in eastern England, is the headquarters for the rapidly expanding cereal bar business.

The breakfast cereal plant, which was built nine years ago on an industrial estate three miles away, produces 70 products - from organic to the Jordans' Conservation Grade cereals.

Each year about 35,000 tonnes of breakfast cereals products are made, which requires some 25,000 tonnes of cereals, including oats and other whole grain, from the company's network of 80 dedicated Conservation Grade farmers.

Mr Nevard said that the challenge on food miles was to devise a means of “communicating that information on pack. It is our intent at the moment. We want to put alongside the ingredient label an ecology label.”

Obviously, especially when it comes to the ingredients of muesli including tropical fruits, distances for some products could easily give a misleading picture. The broad aim was to mimimise the

carbon footprint wherever possible by shipping products rather than using airfreight.

Jordans, which has a turnover of £74m last year, wants to get the message across that the environment really matters. “We don't necessarily know all the answers to the nth degree. It is our intent to do as well as we can, given that we're not a huge firm. It is worth pointing out that this whole area of environmental ethics is very complicated,” said Mr Nevard, who started an environmental consultancy while in his native Australia.

He stressed that the company is keen to work with primary suppliers as much as possible to “pay a premium back to the farmer” to encourage the best environmental and ethical conduct.

He said Jordans paid a premium to its suppliers of cereals through the Conservation Grade scheme for exactly that same reason.

“Consumers are increasingly wanting to do something ethical, and they identify Jordans as ethical,” he added.

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