It is in the public's and producers’ interests that our public sector uses our world-leading food and farming industry. That's why we have been working with government and industry to maximise these opportunities for NFU members.
What does the public procurement of food mean?
Public procurement is the purchase of goods and services on behalf of a public authority, such as a government agency. The public procurement of food encompasses a spend of over £2.4 billion in organisations such as schools, prisons, the military and hospitals.
What public procurement policy is government reviewing?
Government is looking at two areas of public sector food procurement in 2021:
- The cabinet office has consulted on the UK’s procurement structures and a Procurement Bill has been proposed.
- Defra is consulting on the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering. These are mandatory standards.
These are great opportunities to help bring about a renewed approach to public procurement, and from them we want more inward investment in British food, its standards, and values.
What is the NFU saying to government?
- By investing in the nation’s food production system, the government can capitalise on the benefits that our agri-food economy delivers. This includes food safety and production standards, environmental protection and animal welfare.
- Public sector food procurement can ensure everyone has access to British food, regardless of where they live or their income.
The NFU’s policy priorities and the above political asks centre around ensuring the government is ambitious in its commitment to sourcing from the UK food and drink sector, including promoting and driving local and seasonal food purchasing. This includes reinforcing and upholding British food standards, driving food procurement away from purchasing on price alone.
NFU foodservice and procurement adviser Bethan Williams explains:
“We want a public sector procurement model that values domestic sourcing, is mandated by central government and delivered regionally with support from local producers, enabling more British food on our plates. I am looking forward to engaging with government and industry on the NFU’s ambitions to develop a transparent, competitive and functioning public sector marketplace that places British production at the centre of government sourcing”.
Policy priorities will be achieved through various NFU work streams within public procurement. These include:
- Responding to the Government Buying Standards consultation.
- Building relationships within specific sectors, such as the NHS, as well as relations with public sector catering and contract caterers.
- Developing campaigns around our political asks and engaging with government on SME sourcing.