The Anonymous Widower

Are Kraft Heinz Up To Something?

This article on The Times, is entitled Ketchup On Its Way Back To Britain As Kraft Heinz Invests In UK Site.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Heinz tomato ketchup will be made in Britain again after its owner announced plans for a £140 million upgrade of a site on the outskirts of Wigan.

Europe’s largest food manufacturing facility is set to start making the sauces of Kraft Heinz, which also include mayonnaise and salad cream, in a move designed to meet demand in the UK.

I wrote about Kraft recently in Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation, where they were experimenting with Network Rail to get goods to their Wigan site faster and with less carbon emissions.

I think the two stories might fit together.

have just looked at my 435 gram bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup. It states on the bottle that every 100 grams of the sauce is made from 174 grams of tomatoes. I suspect leaving in the pips and the skins would make a rather lumpy sauce!

But this means that for every tonne of sauce, there is a need for 1.74 tonnes of tomatoes.

Could this be a reason why Kraft Heinz ran an experiment a couple of months ago with bringing in goods to the site at Wigan by rail?

There could be TomatoLiner trains all the way from Spain or Italy.

Or perhaps, they could link Wigan to Lincolnshire or South Yorkshire, where tomatoes could be grown in large automated greenhouses, heated by the waste heat from all the power stations. Carbon dioxide from gas-fired power stations could also be used to make the tomatoes grow big and strong.

Why shouldn’t we eat the carbon dioxide we produce?

The more I look at Google Maps of Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, the more I think that cost-competitive UK-produced tomatoes could be one of the reasons for this move.

I have found companies like Yorkshire Grown Produce, who grow the speciality varieties of tomatoes for supermarkets. and CambridgeHOK, who design and build the automated greenhouses.

But the problem, all growers of fruit and vegetables face, is the lack of people to do the harvesting, at an affordable price.

  • As a Control Engineer, who has walked on automation, it is my view that robot or automatic harvesting is needed.
  • After all robots don’t get drunk at the weekend and not turn up on Mondays.

I haven’t found a robot that would pick tomatoes yet, but I suspect there’s a company out there working on it.

Yorkshire Grown Produce are in Brough, a few files to the South-West of Hull. and say they can provide quality tomatoes from March to November.

So could a company provide affordable tomatoes to Kraft Heinz’s specification for 9-10 months of the year?

  • Looking at bottles of Ketchup, it appears they have a shelf life of at least a year, so the month’s without tomatoes could be bridged by a warehouse.
  • I also suspect that automated greenhouses could turn out guaranteed Organic tomatoes.
  • The tomatoes would arrive in Wigan the day they are picked.
  • It probably wouldn’t be a large train every day and the line at Wigan is not electrified, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a zero-carbon trip across the Pennines.

I can see an efficient system for the production of tomato ketchup, which could be labelled organic and 100 % British.

How many tonnes of carbon emissions would be saved? Probably not many! But it’s the thought that counts.

If this isn’t technology-aided marketing, I don’t know what is?

Conclusion

How many other production and delivery processes can be simplified by the use of rail?

June 1, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , | 5 Comments

Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation

In the UK, we certainly need to get more freight on to the railways.

Recently, KraftHeinz were involved in an experiment. A lot of their product currently comes into the UK in containers, which are then taken by road from the ports by truck.

This report about the experiment was on this page of the Modern Railway’s web site.

KraftHeinz’s distribution centre is in the Orrell district of Wigan, with the Wigan Wallgate to Southport route the closest railway line. The trial involved a container train that was sent from Crewe to the branch on an overnight working, with the notional offloading taking place from the running line close to Gathurst station. Also demonstrated was the feasibility of loco run round in this area. Network Rail signallers helped ensure the success of the trial by facilitating the use of a crossover at Parbold station for the run round (some signal alterations would be likely if this became a regular operation).

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Gathurst station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The KraftHeinz Distribution Centre is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The Wigan Wallgate and Southport Line runs between the two.

It was all very convenient for an some intense  night work.

I have some thoughts.

Where’s The Siding?

Years ago a lot of factories and distribution centres like this, would have had a siding.

Many have been sold off and built over, as many companies preferred to use road transport.

Using The Running Line

This was first used in the UK to load timber on to trains in the North of Scotland for transporting to markets in the South.

Surely, the only thing needed is ground strong enough alongside the track to support a container handling machine.

Were JCB Involved?

JCB are innovators and appeared a few days on this blog, in this a post entitled JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

Although, that post wasn’t about cargo handling, it shows that the company thinks differently and I’m sure they can come up with a pollution-free container-handler to unload containers at night for companies like KraftHeinz.

Conclusion

Surely, if this freight movement were to be used regularly, the signalling changes and perhaps some concrete should be installed.

We need more cargo-handling experiments like this to get more trucks off the road.

May 24, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments