That was the message from NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts when delivering the keynote speech at the annual Public Sector Catering 100 meeting last week.
The PSC100 group comprises caterers, dietitians, politicians, healthy eating campaigners and suppliers who operate in the public sector.
There was a lot of ground to cover for the NFU within the address, from the role of British food within the public sector to the challenges we all face around labour availability, the importance of getting trade deals right, and the opportunities to develop net-zero supply chains together.
Mr Roberts used the speech to clearly set out that food producers want to work in partnership with the public sector and that the NFU values the engagement with Public Sector Catering, who invited us to speak.
Access to quality British food
At the heart of his speech, Mr Roberts made it clear that food and farming want to work together to champion British food production, from our world-leading livestock and dairy producers to our fresh produce growers. This includes focusing on how can we work together to celebrate all our food producers.
British agriculture has an excellent story, and we passionately care about the public sector.
Here were our key messages to Public Sector Catering:
- Individuals across all socio-economic backgrounds should be able to access good-quality British food. We believe that everyone should have access to local, sustainable food, and we want to work with the supply chain and government to champion British product. This is not about British menus, but British ingredients filling the plates of the public sector.
- UK government must address food security. We need to build resilience and sustainable supply chains and not over-rely on other countries to fulfil our food needs.
- At a time of acute economic insecurity, how do we all collectively urge government to utilise public procurement policies to drive economic growth? It is not just about one simple purchase: every pound spent has a wider value to the UK’s economy. Public spending has a huge role in investing in the national economy, the environment, and the health of consumers.
- Government must be bold and ambitious in January’s Government Buying Standards for Food & Catering Review. We must see meaningful change in procurement policy, and the NFU is engaging with government actively on the review.