Public sector food and catering consultation – NFU response

06 September 2022

Farm business Food supply chain
A picture of children lining up at a school canteen and dinner ladies serving their meals across the hot counter

A group of children receiving school dinners. Photograph: monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto

The government is seeking views on possible changes to public sector food and catering policy. Follow the journey of this consultation and find out how to have your say. 

6 September 2022

The NFU responds to public sector catering consultation

It is of great importance to the NFU that the food British farmer and growers produce is served to the citizens of the UK at every opportunity.
 
Mandating standards that drive more local food procurement can give stability and a vote of confidence to British farmers and growers.
 
The NFU made it clear within the consultation response that it is in everyone’s interest for the public sector, a market worth over £2.4 billion, to utilise our world-leading food and farming industry.

Investing in the UK economy

At a time of acute economic insecurity, the government’s public procurement policies create an opportunity to utilise public spending to invest in the economy, the environment and the communities that produce the country’s food.
 
Public sector food provision has a critical role in feeding the nation, often some of the most vulnerable in society. It can reconnect people with their diets and ensure everyone can eat great British food, regardless of where they live or their income.
 
Government policy must not be short-sighted in understanding how public sector food provision can be utilised as a mechanism for investment in agri-food, alongside increasing innovation and building resilience within local supply chains.
 
Government must seek to utilise their own food provision as a mechanism to build resilience and support food security challenges.

What are the NFU’s views?

The government must aspire to develop a transparent, competitive, and functioning public sector marketplace that places local British production at the centre of government sourcing.

The government should seek to develop a public procurement structure that allows the food and agriculture sector to grow and thrive, upholds UK food integrity and standards, and operates in a transparent and competitive marketplace.

Making the standards mandatory across all sectors of public sector catering will be a huge vote of support for British food and farming.

The NFU welcomes the move to make data and insight on public sector procurement more transparent and accessible. Government must support buyers and authorities to collect and report this data, to not place additional burden on individuals and services.

Government must acknowledge that public sector food contracting is fragmented and often has to access SME businesses. Innovation must provide the ability for food producers to access the market and should be driven around new procurement structures such as ‘Dynamic Food Procurement’.

We welcome menu cycling to enable more seasonal menus within public sector catering. It is important that the market can capitalise on the fresh, seasonal product local farmers and growers can produce.

The NFU agrees with the target of 50% of food expenditure on local or higher environmental food production standards. Local food should be prioritised, and the NFU would welcome greater detail on what schemes meet the “higher environmental production standards”. It is vitally important that procurement standards acknowledge the additional environmental benefits UK food delivers aside from the set schemes outlined in the consultation.

Download the full public sector food and catering response (04/09/2022)

13 June 2022

Government proposes new food procurement changes

Defra is consulting on a set of proposed changes to public sector food and catering policy. 

The consultation, which was launched with the Government Food Strategy is looking at:

  • The standards for food and drink within the public sector e.g. The Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering
  • Procurement data
  • How government can support the implementation of these standards

The consultation opened on 13 June 2022 and closed on 4 September 2022.

The NFU has submitted a response on behalf of members.

public procurement

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query our NFU CallFirst will contact you and, if appropriate, your question will be passed on to one of our policy teams.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Summary

  • The NFU has submitted a response on behalf of members.
  • The NFU has asked government to develop a transparent, competitive, and functioning public sector marketplace.
  • Procurement uphold UK food integrity and standards.
  • Make public sector procurement more transparent and accessible.
  • Enable more seasonal menus.
  • Target of 50% of food expenditure on local or higher environmental food production standards.
  • The consultation opened on 13 June 2022 and closed on 4 September 2022.