Sustainability & Climate
Hot Sauce to Cool the Planet
If people wanted to eat local there would not be so many chillies in their diet. To grow them well in the British climate would need polythene tunnels for a limited summer season and heated greenhouses for a longer summer season. So, they would be expensive to produce and not many farmers would be looking to turn them into sauces! We are also not convinced that they really ripen well under our sunshine in UK. It is pushing rocks uphill.
So, if we go to West Africa where back in 1686 Sieur Michel Jajaloet de la Courbe was meeting a Gambian lady called La Belingeure, and it was noted even then that Chilli Peppers in the West African climate grew like weeds in the open and under the African Sun. At the time West Africa had its own peppery spice called Malaguetta powder, know to Medieveal Europe as ‘grains of paradise’. Even from over 300 years ago it was acknowledged that Africa was a great place to grow chillies.
The next step is how to bring these grains of paradise, beautifully grown and ripened back to HATARI HQ in Devon in the most sustainable way. We all are very accustomed to Roses from Kenya on Valentine’s day, Asparagus from Peru for a Xmas treat and raspberries from South Africa. This and thousands of tonnes of fresh products are air freighted to UK daily to serve our desire for foreign tastes and to eat produce beyond the UK season.
HATARI looked to establish beyond the original base in Tanzania and settled on Senegal. Shipping vessels leave from Dakar weekly and Southampton is only 5 or 6 days away, so although a good number of food miles, it is the closest sub-Saharan port to serve Southampton. SO that is moving our chillies to the right direction.
But sea-freighting HATARI means filling 40 foot containers with our beautifully ripened chillies – needing about 16 tonnes of chilli which is a lot of chillies to get together at one time. These early days we are bringing chillies in by air from our Tanzanian and Senegalese farms, as we have not quite organised the 16 tonnes, but by the end of 2022, if we people like our HATARI sauce we will growing and moving this volume exclusively for us for our HATARI sauces.
A study by the UK government discovered a plane creates 44 times more CO2 than a ship when carrying the same freight over the same distance. So that is already a good, but there is more
Sea freight is much more environmentally friendly than air freight, the airplanes’ larger impact on climate change is also down to how they work.
Airplanes’ emissions are released higher in the atmosphere, they have a bigger effect on atmospheric chemistry, so the emissions they release have a worse effect on the environment than emissions from ships. Air freight is much more damaging.
And sea freight is becoming increasingly eco-friendly. There’s even talk of using sails to harness wind assistance. The shipping industry wants to reduce greenhouse gases – they just need the technology to be able to do it. If the idea of climate change makes your blood boil, sea freight is the way we are going.
Vertical Integration fighting waste
Step back and compare us to other chilli sauce makers, we have looked around at other companies supplying chilli sauce. A large American company grows their raw material in South America, takes it to their base in Southern USA, processes and packs, and then ships worldwide. There are efficiencies here as they are long time established. Sauce companies based in UK and Northern Europe, would be buying chillies from Africa, India, Asia out of season and Morocco, Turkey, Israel and Southern Europe in season.
Each step of the chain may represent a transport and potential packaging change, also each step wants to make a margin on the goods.
We are producing chilli sauces from chillies grown under our supervision in Tanzania and Senegal. Grown for us, some by us and some in fields we are watching closely with the farmers. We do all the handling from seed to sauce. This allows great synergies in all steps of our supply chain to be as efficient as we can.
In Time the HATARI value chain will become fully vertically integrated.
SO there exists many steps to make transport, packaging, storage and processing as efficient as possible. Watch this space as HATARI grows.
Gary and Joanna, with much help from their children have planted nearly 10,000 trees on their Devon holding. This has been much backbreaking work and was done over 4 winters. We remain very proud of this and in fact it is so beautiful that we now have weddings in the trees.
Once we establish in West Africa, tree planting will become a major activity, either what we do ourselves or what we will support locally. The great aspect of being established in these areas is that we can directly organise tree nurseries as an offshoot of our primary activity. Plus have equipment and know how to grow trees and maintain them in these areas.
We are in talks with active local operators and agencies already established and on the ground working.
This will become an enormous chapter for HATARI in time, where we will explain the detail of what we do on the farms. Farming is both under scrutiny for its practices, but most farmers, by their very nature are interested in the sustainability of their land and their operations. So, both push and pull.
At the same time the BS factor (a good organic manure) has emerged in what is nicely called ‘Greenwashing’ where the company or operators will give some nice stories which may pacify the listener but represent actions that in no way address fully their environmentally damaging activities.
My own experience with a highly reputable organic grower, what the public knew and was widely reported is that no herbicides were used on the crop, what they did not know is that tonnes of plastic mulch was used instead to counter the weeds. So instead of using say 25-30 litres of herbicide on their farm, they had to dispose of 5-10 tonnes of filthy plastic at the end of the season.
So at the beginning of our story and throughout our journey I am going to give the challenges we face and what we are doing about it. We will improve rapidly, especially if you keep buying our HATARI sauces.
- Using rice hulls to make compost to grow seedlings avoiding the use of peat. In Africa peat is not only transported from Europe to Africa, but also made by mining wetland areas.
- Growing on vegetable beds across the slope to avoid the erosion of soils.
- Using Sun Hemp as a rotational crop
- Use of drip irrigation to reduce water use
- Using large greenhouses covered with nets instead of polythene to minimise insect pests to avoid using so many pesticides
- Use of solar powered traps to attract crop pests and thereby avoiding the use of pesticides