Government food promise appetising for UK businesses
IT is harvest time and everywhere in the UK there is freshly-gathered food at the peak of its condition. Central government is potentially a big customer in this market.
The prime minister and the environment secretary announced in July that, from 2017, central government is going to commit to buy fresh, locally-sourced, seasonal food.
The initiative will be backed by a new simplified food and drink buying standard.
The new Plan for Public Procurement could benefit thousands of British producers, small businesses, the rural economy and the public.
It could add up to £400 million in new business for the British food industry.
The public sector spends £1.2 billion each year on food and drink.
Up to £600m of that is spent importing food.
It is estimated that £400m of these foodstuffs could be bought within the UK.
All schools and hospitals are expected to serve more locally reared meats or freshly picked fruit and vegetables.
Buyers in the public sector are going to judge their potential suppliers with five key criteria:
How food is produced and whether the food was produced locally.
The health and nutritional content of food purchases.
The resource efficiency of producing the food (such as water and energy use, or waste production).
How far the food bought meets the government’s priorities, such as supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
The quality of service and value for money.
From September 2014, there will be a new buying process with an online portal, so that companies will be able to register.
If the company meets the necessary requirements, they will then be notified automatically when any eligible contracts are put out for tender.