We have a received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the following:
1. Does the Home Office have a policy in place for procuring domestically produced food for its catering operations?
2. If so, please can you provide a brief outline of the policy?
3. What percentage out of the total food procured was produced in Britain in financial years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011?
We released the following information on 9 May 2011.
2. The Home Department does not contract directly for food supplies but procures catering services through Facilities Management and operational service contract. These contracts incorporate Government guidance from DEFRA on sustainable food and farming and we are working with our service providers to understand what proportion of food supplied currently meets British standards of production as well as what potential there is to increase this proportion, to contribute to the Government objective.
Please be aware that there is nothing to stop government buying British food where this represents value for money. However Departments are advised that they may not set a ‘buy British’ policy to ensure that food procured is of domestic origin. To do so would be contrary to existing UK and EU procurement legislation which prohibits ‘buy national’ policies and ensures fair competition and equal access to economic factors in the marketplace.
3. The Home Office do not contract directly for food supplies but procure catering services through wider FM or operating service contracts. We do not require FM service providers to collect data in relation to percentage of food supplied that was produced in the UK.
However we have as part of DEFRA led initiatives in respect of British standards of food production contacted the relevant suppliers and have received some initial responses indicating that the proportion of food already procured that meets British standards is in the region of 70% to 100%. This does not cover all the suppliers or all food groups, we will be working with the suppliers to better understand exactly what proportions do meet British production standards and what potential there is to increase this percentage.