By Andrew Atkinson

Spain is to supply Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco to expand its use of a train service to bring goods into the UK – which helped cut emissions and protect deliveries through a truck drivers’ shortage, it’s CEO told Reuters.

CEO Ken Murphy said in an interview that the last three months had been quite challenging.

The group has also started using a chilled rail service from Cartagena to bring fruit and vegetables into the UK from Spain, helping to cut the number of trucks it has on roads and guarantee deliveries.

From 65,000 containers a year on rail, Tesco has an ambition to increase that to 90,000 containers by November or December.

“We’re one of the few if not the only grocery retailer in the UK that uses rail extensively,” said Murphy.

Spanish vegetables at Los Alcázares. Photo: Andrew Atkinson.

“That helped us during the HGV challenges we’ve had during the summer. To put it into context, by shipping 65,000 by rail, we save about 22 million road miles a year,” he said.

Britain has been hit by an acute shortage of truck drivers during 2021 – with some retailers and oil companies warning that they were struggling to maintain full services.

Many leading companies are under pressure to cut emissions targets, with Tesco setting out plans to do so.

CEO Murphy said: “Despite the challenges, Tesco had done a fantastic job of getting food into stores, while not allowing food waste to increase.”

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