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Cambridge Organic Food company is charging ahead


By Mike Scialom


Duncan Catchpole from Cambridge Organic Food Co with, from left, Carole Brook, Jack Arnold and Mike Smart - and the firm's branded electric van range. Picture: Keith Heppell.
Duncan Catchpole from Cambridge Organic Food Co with, from left, Carole Brook, Jack Arnold and Mike Smart - and the firm's branded electric van range. Picture: Keith Heppell.

Cambridge Organic Food Company has furthered its delivery area after a grant from the Business Energy Efficiency (BEE) programme was invested in sustainably-powered transport.

The Haslingfield-based business focuses on sustainability and already used electric vehicles for local deliveries of its fresh organic vegetable boxes and locally-produced food, while still retaining the use of two diesel vans for the furthest reaches of its customer base.

However, electric vans with a longer range are now available, and the Cambridge Organic Food Company successfully applied for a grant of £4,870 from the Business Energy Efficiency (BEE) programme towards the purchase of the new one. The investment will realise estimated annual carbon savings of two tonnes.

“Although we already ran a fleet of electric vans there were many of our customers who lived beyond their limited range,” said managing director Duncan Catchpole. “Our new van has an extended range, allowing us to reach more people with zero emissions deliveries. We would not have been able to afford this brand new van without the help of the BEE Cambridge & Peterborough grant.”

The new vehicle is a Nissan e-NV200 with a 40kW battery – the same battery as the new Nissan LEAF – which covers 120 miles on a single charge, and allows the firm’s service to be delivered to clients in Ely, Huntingdon/St Ives, St Neots, Royston, Saffron Walden, Haverhill and the surrounding villages in an eco-friendly fashion.

The second diesel van is the next size up and is used for picking up large amounts of produce.

“That’ll be replaced by an electric one when they bring one out,” says Duncan. “It could be VW’s electric Crafter which is might be out in 2020.”

Cambridge Organic Food Company founder Duncan Catchpole at the company base in Haslingfield. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Organic Food Company founder Duncan Catchpole at the company base in Haslingfield. Picture: Keith Heppell

It’s been quite a year already.

“This year has the message about the climate change emergency really seems to have escalated, along with interest in a plant-based diet, and the week just gone was a record week for us – and that’s the fourth time we’ve set a new record this year.”

Duncan started The Cambridge Organic Food Company in 1998.

“When we started up we had a shop on Mill Road for a year, then moved to Fulbourn, then Risby before moving to Haslingfield in 2005.”

The company, a Living Wage accredited employer since the scheme launched in 2014, now has 14 staff. It is the driving force behind the Cambridge Food Hub, an online trading platform which is currently being piloted.

Since the BEE programme launched in spring 2017, it has supported more than 200 SMEs, identifying cost savings of £1.2million and potential carbon reductions of more than 6,000 tonnes.

Using funding secured from the European Regional Development Fund, BEE offers a free audit service to help small- and medium-sized enterprises identify energy saving opportunities. Businesses who look to invest in capital projects to improve energy efficiency can access a grant scheme offering up to £20,000 in financial support.

Grant funding is available for a number of measures including; LED lighting; heating & cooling; insulation; solar PV & battery storage and electric vehicles.

The project is being delivered by the environmental charity PECT, in partnership with enterprise agency Nwes. Businesses are urged to contact BEE before the end of June, while funding is still available.



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