French cheese firm switches track to rail

Paris, France: Cheese group Bel is using an intermodal road-rail service for its temperature-controlled inbound logistics for the first time. According to UK publication Logistics Manager, Bel trialled the service in March and is confident that rail will cut CO2 emissions and reduce road congestion and noise. Bel expects that rail flows will eventually account for one third of the volumes of Kiri and Mini Babybel cheeses sold in southeast France.

The pilot service was carried out in conjunction with logistics partner STEF-TFE and involved moving product between two plants in western France and the Givors logistics platform near Lyon.

Esthelle Grosskopf, Bel distribution manager for Western Europe says: “Until now, we moved all our products by road. This commitment to rail allows us to reach our targets for reducing our carbon footprint earlier than expected. With this combined road-rail transport pilot test with our partner STEF-TFE, a cold logistics expert, we are committed to a policy of adapting our transport schemes and professional practices”.

Bel is using refrigerated containers which can take 22 tons of goods under temperature-controlled conditions (+2° C / +4°C). The refrigerated containers are loaded with pallets of Kiri cheese at the Sablé-sur-Sarthe plant and with Mini Babybel cheese at the Evron plant. The containers, equipped with temperature sensors, are brought into the station’s shipping terminal by truck and transported by rail from Rennes to Lyon. They are then trucked to the STEF-TFE logistics site in Givors (Rhône), where STEF-TFE handles temperature-controlled order preparation bound for Southeast France.

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