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Food: Procurement

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL1296, tabled on 5 September 2017

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enhance public procurement of British food once the UK has left the EU.

Answered on

19 September 2017

The government has a manifesto commitment to ensure that a third of goods and services procured by departments are supplied by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We are delivering this in respect of food and catering services through the Plan for Public Procurement: Food and Catering Services, published in 2014.

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 provides tools, including the balanced scorecard, to help contracting parties to balance a range of criteria beneficial to the consumer, the environment, and to producers. These 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 use of the balanced scorecard approach is mandatory for central government departments as existing contracts are renewed. 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 some flexibility to re-examine procurement rules to ensure they work in the best interests of UK businesses.