Nestlé UK and Ireland has successfully completed its first delivery to supermarket chain Tesco using a ‘first-of-its-kind’ rail container, as part of a new rail freight trial.
The container features a roof-raising mechanism allowing products to be “double-stacked from floor to ceiling operating at full capacity before the roof is lowered for transit”. The appeal of this is its capability to store potentially twice as much freight in one journey, reducing costs and emissions.
This is part of Nestlé’s plans to increase freight capacity on trains as a means of reducing the negative impact that the company’s logistics operations have on the environment. It is hoped that the trial will allow the process to be refined over time, providing further opportunities for Nestlé to expand the volume of goods that can be transported via rail in a single shipment.
This focus is integral to Nestlé’s strategy to reduce its reliance on the consumption of diesel in its road transport network. According to a 2021 report from the Rail Delivery Group, rail freight produces, on average, 76% fewer emissions than road transport. This, it claims, equates to a reduction of around 1.4 million tonnes of CO₂ nationally each year.
Globally, Nestlé has committed to a 20% emissions reduction by 2025, and a 50% reduction by 2030. Hitting these targets should support the company its its ultimate goal to have achieved net zero emissions before the end of 2050.
Niall McCarthy, Rail Development and Delivery Manager at Nestlé UK and Ireland, said: “This trial marks an important development in Nestlé’s commitment to halve its emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
“This initial trial will help launch stronger supply chain resilience and reduce carbon emissions in the Nestlé UK and Ireland network.
“Furthermore, we are proud to deliver to Tesco on this trial, a customer of ours who has been on rail since 2008.”
The initial journey of the trial saw double-stacked Purina products travel from Hams Hall Distribution Park in North Warwickshire to Tesco’s Thurrock distribution centre in Essex. In addition to its pet food products, several of Nestlé’s brands are stocked in Tesco stores, with products from ranging from cereal to confectionary, and even baby food.
More and more companies seem to be investing in rail freight as part of their decarbonisation plan. Just this year, IKEA has started work on a project to establish a 2,000km non-stop rail route in Europe, while Unipart Rail and FuelActive are set to develop a new solution to limit the impact of fuel contamination on train engines.