Collapsible boxes could save money and help environment, says grower Vernon Mascarenhas

A fruit and vegetable grower is looking to find greener ways to transport fruit and vegetables -- especially during the London Olympics.

Vernon Mascarenhas, the new "Local to London Champion", is pinning his hopes on collapsible plastic boxes to shift produce from growers to restaurants in London.

"At the moment, suppliers use cardboard boxes to send their produce to restaurants," said Mascarenhas. "After use these boxes are disposed of. This is not only costly in terms of the environment but also for the business: each box costs more than 50p. A collapsible box will cost 25p per month to rent."

Switching to plastic reusable boxes would allow his company, Secretts Farm, to run four vans rather than five because they can be loaded more efficiently, he said.

Mascarenhas supplies produce from his farm near Guildford, Surrey, and from around 25 growers across the South East. He started the business with TV food expert Greg Wallace in 2001.

"We now have hundreds of customers across London, from Michelin-starred restaurants to pubs. Over the season we supply more than 400 lines of fruit and vegetables.

"The trend towards sourcing locally means there is more direct supply from grower to restaurant. Finding ways of doing that more efficiently is increasingly important."

The project, funded by the Government Office for the South East, will run until March 2010.

Growers and restaurant owners will share the findings and Mascarenhas seeks the views of those looking to improve food supplies to London, particularly for the Olympics.

Contact Vernon Mascarenhas on 01483 520510 or 07966 400961.


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