On 29th July 2020, in a beach bar in the middle of Alkmaar, three EcoClipper team members sat down with Sebastian Brimmers from pepper company Hennes’ Finest. Coffee in hand, conversation ranged from history of Kampot pepper, the farmers behind the produce, potential for sailing pepper across the world from Cambodia to Europe, and the consumers. All quotes are direct from Sebastian. So, grab a coffee and enjoy!
Sailing pepper across the world – The philosophy
First of all, why should pepper be transported for miles across the world? Could it not be grown in Europe? Although Sebastian thoroughly agrees with supporting local economies, the location for growing pepper is perfect in Cambodia “as you get huge amounts of rain in the monsoon season, as well as sun.” Conditions would have to be replicated in Europe, leading to excessive energy consumption. The quality of Kampot pepper is unique and,
“As long as there is demand, we will continue to push for good quality and to support Cambodian farmers.”
Transporting pepper in an engineless sailing vessel may seem like a crazy idea, especially considering the price and speed of conventional shipping. But for Hennes’ Finest, it’s the next step:
“We are very aware that the way we transport our pepper now doesn’t fit into our philosophy… Until now there is no other option but to transport it by motor vessel or worse, by plane. We are really trying to close our circle so that we are completely sustainable and transparent.”
Shipping cargo by sailing vessels is a perfect resolution for Hennes’ Finest. Not many sailing cargo ships sail from South East Asia to Europe. EcoClipper ships, however, will be designed for speed, deep-sea sailing and will operate on three routes around the world. EcoClipper can therefore deliver the emission-free transport Hennes’ Finest seek.
Also, EcoClipper, and indeed most sail cargo vessels, focus on transporting products that are environmentally sustainable and socially ethical, with the least amount of emissions. A collaboration with Hennes’ Finest was an exciting prospect as their product and philosophies align with EcoClipper company values.
Sailing pepper across the world – The practicalities
Pepper has a long best-before date. So, this spice can be transported slowly without damaging the quality, as long as the conditions are right. Pepper needs to be stored at 14°C, give or take a couple of degrees. If it changes more than that in a short period, then the quality of the pepper will change.
Although the hold of an EcoClipper ship will not be temperature controlled, the temperature of the ship’s hull alters to match the temperature of the water around it. As the ocean is such a large body of water, the changes will be slow. Therefore, the temperature within the hold will not change dramatically and change the quality of the product.
“if the environmental changes are slow, change to the pepper will be slow too.”
The value of transporting products by sailing ship
There is added value by transporting pepper on an engineless sailing ship. Sebastian argues that by doing so Hennes’ Finest is “focussing on the wellbeing of everybody involved” as well as the environmental benefits. From the farmers, the crew sailing the ship and the customers, there is a valuable story added to the product.
The farmers will grow and harvest their pepper. Hennes’ Finest packaging and website will continue to inform the public about their farmers and the product.
The crew, trainees and passengers of the EcoClipper ship will sail across the world, seeing beautiful sights along the way and learning the intricacies of a square-rigged sailing vessel.
And the customers? Well, instead of quick delivery of a product from across the world, without any information on how that is achieved, a Hennes’ Finest customer is informed about the ship, the people sailing it and knowing that their pepper is on the way!
“If the whole system works, you will not lack pepper! How nice would it be for our customers to be relaxing at home, check a website to see where the EcoClipper is, what weather the ship has and that the pepper is there too. It’s about relaxing and enjoying the journey of the product.”