The public sector, covering the breadth of schools, hospitals, care homes and the armed forces, spends around £2.2 billion on food every year.
Food for the public sector is an important area which faces the challenge of delivering better value and quality to patients, pupils and other public service users.
The NFU believes this means there are substantial opportunities for UK farmers and growers, as British farmers are already committed to producing safe, traceable food to world-class standards.
The government has been working over the years to formulate food standards that public sector procurers should adhere to.
The latest, the Government Buying Standards, cover nutritional requirements and sustainable sourcing.
But, unfortunately, these mandatory standards do not cover the big spenders across the public sector – our hospitals and schools. While schools must meet some nutritional standards, hospitals do not have any mandatory standards at all.
British farmers and growers are well placed to play a key role in meeting sustainable sourcing requirements, taking care of precious environmental resources like water, soils and the natural landscape.
At the same time, we can drive economic growth both locally and nationally.