Intrepid fresh produce bikers win ethical sourcing support
Max MacGillivray (r) chats to visitors to The Great Fruit Adventure stand at The London Produce Show

Intrepid fresh produce bikers win ethical sourcing support

Angela Youngman

It’s been a busy few months for the Great Fruit Adventure since displaying its motorbikes at the London Produce Show and Conference in June and attracting the attention of a global audience. But it has paid off as the innovative endeavour has won the backing of both the Waitrose Foundation and the Fairtrade Foundation both of which are arranging for fresh produce industry stalwart, Max MacGillivray and his fellow rider, seasoned motorbike tourist and dairy-sector businessman Gareth Jones to visit some of their farms in Africa

The Great Fruit Adventure begins on November 8 at New Spitalfields Market in London when the duo will be waved off by a group of 100 children from a nearby school, as well as representatives from the Lord Mayor’s office. After leaving London they will bike their way to Cape Town, South Africa visiting numerous fruit and vegetable growers along the way. They plan to chronicle their story, and that of the growers, in order to raise awareness of how fruit and vegetables get from where they are grown to British retail shelves.

MacGillivray says: “I can’t wait for the journey now especially after the encouragement and backing from the Waitrose Foundation and the Fairtrade Foundation. Fresh produce is my lifelong passion and I’ve put my heart and soul into the industry so I was dismayed to read that six out of 10 British children had no idea where the fruit and vegetables they eat comes from. Something had to be done. I want to tell the story of the fantastic places where our fruit and vegetables are grown and having two big industry names backing us all the way is incredible.”

Along the way, they will visit major citrus growers in Spain, the largest grower of sweetcorn in Senegal, Blue Skies, a Ghanaian fruit grower which supplies Waitrose and Sainsbury’s with prepared fruit products, leading exotic vegetable and coffee growers in Kenya, as well as growers in Tanzania and South Africa.

All the way with the Waitrose Foundation

The Waitrose Foundation is a partnership between Waitrose, its suppliers and growers who produce, pick and pack its fresh produce in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. The initiative was launched 11 years ago to help improve the lives of the workers and communities that supply Waitrose’s products, including some citrus fruits, flowers and avocados.

Amali Bunter, responsible sourcing manager at the foundation says: “It’s great Max will be visiting Waitrose Foundation farms where he’ll be able to understand the story behind our range of Waitrose Foundation products. He’ll be able to learn how we invest in the communities of the people who produce the quality goods we sell in our branches. By being involved in The Great Fruit Adventure we hope that children will gain a fascinating insight into where their food comes from and how the Waitrose Foundation is having a positive impact on communities across Africa.”

Fairtrade education link

Joanna Mills is the education campaigns manager at the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK and she is excited about the educational advantages the link with MacGillivray and Jones’ ride will provide. “The Great Fruit Adventure champions our work with schools – helping students understand where some of the food we eat in the UK comes from and how our shopping choices can support farmers in developing nations,” says Mills. “Farmers and growers around the world face many problems from unfair trading practices and poverty to climate change. The challenge Max is setting out on should help raise much-needed awareness about some of the issues. We wish him the best of luck.”

The Fairtrade Foundation works to benefit small-scale farmers and workers across 74 developing countries, including some of the African countries the Great Fruit Adventure will travel through. It is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the Fairtrade mark in the UK on products that meet the foundation’s social, economic and environmental standards.

These latest backers highlight the growing prominence this project is gaining within the industry. Since its launch last year, The Great Fruit Adventure has gained many supporters – including Produce Business UK  which is proud to be the official media partner of the initiative – and its stand was one the highlights on a busy exhibition floor at The London Produce Show and Conference in June.

Publicity drives education element

Publicity has been unceasing, particularly on social media. The team took part in the Kids Country Food & Farming Day at the East of England Showground in July, taking space within the African Village. It provided an opportunity for school kids and their teachers to find out about the Great Fruit Adventure and what was being planned. The bikes were particularly popular. MacGillivray says: “The reaction was amazing. The kids were fascinated. At the Food and Farming Day I had 428 kids sitting on my motorbike. They were fascinated by the adventure, by the fact that these bikes were about to travel all the way to South Africa. We talked about where the fruit came from and gave them some fruit as well.

“The five a day campaign can be very grey. The Great Fruit Adventure is exactly that. Kids are attracted to it and learn from it. I have got 13 schools booked up between now and October to give talks and presentations [at]. At South Lea in Bury St Edmunds, the local MP Jo Churchill will be coming along to endorse the Great Fruit Adventure and we will be taking some pictures at the event. It is a good photo opportunity!” 

Yet more schools are already booked up for presentations as soon as MacGillivray returns from South Africa. It is hoped that by raising awareness of fruit and vegetables, kids will be encouraged to eat more rather than opting for junk food. MacGillivray and Jones are also planning to create a 30-40 minute film of the journey which will be available for schools to use as an educational resource in encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables. And not just in the UK – the film will be made available internationally.  

A crowdfunding campaign is set to begin in September offering a variety of rewards for which people can bid. These include the opportunity for a school to take a group of children and a teacher, all expenses paid, to East Africa to visit some of the farms featured during MacGillivray’s Great Fruit Adventure. 

All profits raised once the cost of the trip is covered will go to a select number of Africa-facing nominated charities.

More sponsors and supporters are still being sought for the project. To get involved call 01284 715055, email [email protected] or visit



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