Procurement plays a key role in changing the way food is bought in the public sector, however it is only one element and needs to be accompanied by an overall food strategy which is legally and structurally robust. Food is a category within the National Procurement Service (NPS), set up in 2013 with responsibility for common and repetitive spend in Wales. For more information on the NPS and contracts available click on the link below.
It is also important to note that the role of procurement only plays a small part in ensuring safe food is bought and served up – there is also a responsibility within each organisation's catering outlets / kitchens and other areas such as local authority health departments, Food Standards Agency and Welsh Local Government Association to ensure food hygiene and safety in the kitchen is adhered to and food safety legislation is followed.
On-going dialogue between the organisation and the current and potential supply base is also vital. Understanding the options and doing proper market research before making decisions on the specification or tender process is critical in achieving the desired results. The supply base is often best placed to identify opportunities for change however suppliers need to understand the difference between information gathering and the formal tendering process that will follow.
There are key elements of the procurement process which can be more closely aligned to sustainable development and nutrition policies - here is a table giving an assessment of each of the key areas. Each element will be looked at in the following sections to give practical examples.
The National Audit Office carried out a report in 2006 'Smarter Food Procurement in the Public Sector', focusing on how organisations can improve their food procurement - maintaining or improving the quality of meals they serve whilst controlling their costs. The challenges faced are highlighted along with opportunities for improvement, recommendations and examples of where this has been achieved.
Sustainable food procurement can have positive effects on the environment, economy and society.