Food: Procurement

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15th September 2017.

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Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to change regulations to enable local authorities or central government to stipulate that food and drink that is procured centrally must be of local country or UK origin after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Plan for Public Procurement: Food and Catering Services which was published in 2014 already provides UK food businesses with greater access to central government and wider public sector contracts.

The Plan aims to simplify the public procurement process and open up the market to more SMEs and local producers. It provides a level playing field on which UK producers can compete for the opportunity to supply more of the produce currently supplied from other countries. It includes tools such as the balanced scorecard, to help contracting parties to balance a range of criteria beneficial to the consumer, the environment, and to producers. These criteria include embedding UK production standards, encouraging seasonality of fresh produce and calling for menus which celebrate the provenance of the food. This approach is a UK-led initiative which is not affected by leaving the EU.

The balanced scorecard approach is mandated for central government departments as existing contracts come up for renewal and it is also strongly encouraged for other public sector bodies. Defra is working closely with buyers and with the industry to ensure they are well prepared to maximise the opportunities.

The UK’s departure from the EU allows us to re-examine procurement rules to ensure they work in the best interests of UK businesses.

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