£400 million of potential new business for the British food industry was announced today by Prime Minister David Cameron and Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, as part of the government’s long-term economic plan to back British businesses.
The Prime Minister announced that from 2017, all of central government will commit to buying fresh, locally sourced, seasonal food, so that all food that can be bought locally will be bought locally. This will be done through a new, simplified food and drink buying standard, ‘The Plan for Public Procurement’, which was launched today to benefit thousands of British farmers, small businesses, rural economies and the British public.
The public sector in England spends £1.2 billion every year on food and drink. Up to £600 million of that is spent on imported produce, £400 million of which could be sourced from within the UK. The commitment from central government to use this new buying standard means that just over half of the £400 million will be up for grabs by British farmers. In addition, the wider public sector will be encouraged and supported in using the new framework with the expectation that all schools and hospitals will, in future, serve more locally reared meats and freshly picked fruit and vegetables.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
Our long-term economic plan is all about backing the do-ers and the hard-workers – and no one does more or works as hard in Britain today than our farmers. By opening up these contracts, we can help them create more jobs, invest in their businesses and make sure people in our country have a healthier lifestyle.
It’s a triple win – and will mean a brighter future for our country.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
This move will mean that food served in canteens across the public sector can be more local, seasonal and tastier.
It will help drive growth in Britain’s first class food and drink industry and benefit the environment through reduced waste, higher take-up of meals and less unappetising food left on plates.
This is a huge boost to British farmers and producers and for students, patients and employees who want to enjoy fantastic food.
Public sector buyers will now judge potential suppliers against five key criteria:
how food is produced and whether the food was produced locally
the health and nutritional content of food purchased
the resource efficiency of producing the food, such as water and energy use and waste production
how far the food bought meets government’s socio-economic priorities such as involvement of SMEs
quality of service and value for money
British farmers are expected to benefit significantly from the plan because British farmers are best placed to meet these tough new standards.
In addition to backing local and sustainable food, the new standards prioritise procurement from smaller producers, thereby helping SMEs gain access to the lucrative public sector market.
To support these small businesses further, government will also put in place a new buying process from September, centred around an online portal. Companies which register on this portal and meet the requirements of the plan’s scorecard will automatically be alerted when any eligible contracts come up for tender. They will then be able to apply in just a few clicks.
A Plan for Public Procurement
The ‘Plan for Public Procurement’ has been published following Dr Peter Bonfield’s Review into public produce procurement, which was commissioned by Defra last year. The plan has already generated support from across government and the farming and food sector, including the National Farmers Union, the Food and Drink Federation and major catering companies like Compass and Baxter Storey who supply food across the public sector.
Dr Bonfield said:
I want this work to change how every public institution views the food it buys – we have had a great deal of support from schools, hospitals, businesses, caterers, and farmers, all keen to be a part of this exciting new approach.
The appetite for change is there - by creating the right environment and giving organisations the right tools, small businesses will be able to sell nutritious, top quality food to the public sector market. This is the right approach for our health, our environment and also British businesses.
The announcement comes as 15 agri-tech projects are told they will receive a share of £18 million of funding from government and industry to help accelerate agricultural innovation and their commercial viability.
This funding will help to support the growth of agricultural science and technology sectors in the UK, which already employs nearly 4 million people and is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets.
The 15 projects will receive £12.1 million funding from government with £5.7 million co-investment from industry. They are all led by UK companies and span 3 key areas of the agriculture sector – crops, livestock and aquaculture.
Infographics of the schemes
The public sector in England spends £1.2 billion every year on food and drink. Up to £600 million of that is spent on imported produce, £400 million of which could be sourced from within the UK. The new commitment today will open up £200 million of central government food procurement contracts to UK producers and suppliers, and the expectation that the wider public sector (schools, hospitals, police) will also use the framework, will bring opportunities for the industry to access the remaining £200 million.
For further details and copies of A Plan for Public Procurement please contact Defra press office on 020 7238 5334
Names of the 15 Agri-tech Catalyst Award winning projects:
1) Antimicrobial technology to control disease in potato production
- Advanced Pest Solutions Ltd (lead)
- Agrico UK Limited
- Branston Limited
- McCain Food (GB) Limited
- Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)
- Scottish Agronomy Limited
2) Preservation and sequencing technology to address food security and production efficiency in the poultry sector
- Cobb-Europe (lead)
- The Roslin Institute
3) New strawberries optimised for growing without soil
- East Malling Services limited (lead)
- Agrovista UK Limited
- Botanicoir Limited
- CPM Retail Limited
- East Malling Research
- Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd
4) Using light to extend the shelf-life of fresh produce
- Finlay Flowers UK Limited (lead)
- Adas UK Limited
- Lambda Photometrics Ltd
- May Barn Horticultural Consultancy Limited
- North Bank Growers Limited
- Nutricycle Limited
- University of Nottingham
- Wight Salads Group Limited
5) An automated system for precision application of fertiliser and plant growth compounds
- Growhow UK Limited (lead)
- Adas UK Limited
- Chris Harry-Thomas Consulting
- Hill Court Farm Research
- Patchwork Technology Limited
- Precise Crop Nutrition Limited
- Syngenta Seeds Ltd
6) Developing technology for an organic natural based pesticide
- Hockley International Limited (lead)
- Almac Sciences Limited
- Bangor University
7) Improving efficiency and reducing environmental harm of fertiliser production
- ITM Power (Trading) Limited (lead)
- BPE Design and Support Limited
- FERA Limited
- University of Sheffield
- Waitrose Limited
8) Wheat research and breeding project to improve food security in India and Pakistan
- KWS UK Limited (lead)
- Global Crop Innovations PTY Limited
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute
- University of Sydney
9) Improving the production of farmed salmon to reduce its environmental impact
- Marine Harvest (Scotland) Limited (lead)
- Biomar Limited
- Pharmaq Limited
- University of Stirling
10) Ground and aerial sensors to improve wheat production and breeding
- Masstock Arable (UK) Limited (lead)
- RAGT Seeds Limited
- University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation
11) Increasing the efficiency and quality of strawberries grown without soil
- PlantWorks Limited (lead)
- Agrovista UK Limited
- Berry Gardens Limited
- East Malling Research
12) Protecting peas and beans from beetles without blanket insecticide spraying
- Processors and Growers Research Organisation (lead)
- BASF Public Limited Company
- Exosect Limited
- Rothamsted Research
13) Optimising ‘big data’ to drive improvements in crop production and utilisation
- Produce World Group Limited (lead)
- Cranfield University
14) Breeding lamb for more taste and less waste by scanning live animals
- WM Morrisons Supermarkets PLC (lead)
- Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
15) Technology to automatically monitor pigs for the early detection of health and welfare problems
- Zoetis (lead)
- Harbro Limited
- Innovent UK Limited
- Newcastle University
- RAFT Solutions Ltd