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Report: The environmental, social and economic impacts of BioRegional’s “Veg Van”

10 Sep Posted by in +Featured Postings, Behavior change, Blog, News, UK | Comments Off
Report: The environmental, social and economic impacts of BioRegional’s “Veg Van”

Increasing the supply and demand of fruit and vegetables that are produced locally and in season presents a possible strategy to meet UK government health and environmental objectives. In the London Borough of Sutton, a renovated milk float called the Veg Van has begun selling locally produced fruit and vegetables, aiming to increase the consumption of local and seasonal produce, as a part of the One Planet Food project, run by local charities.

The aim of this study was to determine the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the Veg Van. This was achieved through a survey of the Veg Van‟s customers and interviews with the Veg Van staff, project manager and its suppliers over a three weeks period in July and August 2010. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the Veg Van and its customers shopping trips were calculated and an economic local multiplier LM3 method was used to estimate local economic impacts.

Social interaction between customers and producers increased because of the Veg Van and was stated as highly important for both customers and stakeholders. Also, there was a perceived increase in the healthiness of diets through increased access to fresh produce. The GHG emission related to the Veg Van was relatively low compared with other vendors of fruit and vegetables, as a result of a low-carbon delivery system and the Veg Van‟s convenient location. The Veg Van had significant positive effects on the local economy, because the majority of money spent by the Veg Van was spent locally. The results from the local multiplier LM3 model showed that every £1 spent in the Veg Van would generate an additional £1.6 in the local economy, compared with just £0.4 when the same amount was spent in a supermarket.

The positive impacts of the Veg Van are expected to increase once it becomes more established. Further funding and support of projects with a similar concept also in other areas of the UK is recommended, as this study suggests such initiatives make important contributions to environmental, social and economic objectives.

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Published September 2010