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Farm level sustainability data to inform buying decisions in schools & hospitals

27th Mar 2024 - 08:26
Farm level sustainability data to inform buying decisions in schools & hospitals
Sustainability data at a farm level will soon be provided to schools and hospitals in a first for UK public procurement.

Soil Association Exchange is set to deliver the environmental measures for farms in public sector purchasing as part of the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Buying Better Food and Drink agreement.

This agreement is available for all UK public sector organisations to use for buying food and drink through a single online access point which will be provided by Entegra, a Sodexo company. 

As well as a shift to more dynamic food procurement, which removes barriers to allow small producers to contribute to larger public sector orders, the updated service will also use Exchange’s holistic farm assessments for sustainability.

Exchange measures the environmental impact of farm operations by assessing six key areas – soil, water, carbon, animal welfare, social impacts, and biodiversity. It does this by collecting data through on the ground farm surveys, satellite imagery and other datasets on metrics like soil carbon and bird counts, alongside considering the food production and community benefits a farm provides.

Joseph Gridley, chief executive of the Soil Association Exchange, said: “It is hugely important for our public institutions to serve food that supports sustainable, British farm businesses and we are excited to start delivering data that will help to make this easier. Exchange is already working with hundreds of farms who have helped to develop our wide-ranging sustainability metrics.

“These measurements consider the full picture and can help to show schools and hospitals all of the brilliant things that farmers are doing to support nature while producing good quality food. With our farm level sustainability data and new technology from Equilibrium Markets designed with small businesses in mind, we hope we will soon see a much wider variety of producers accessing this important market.”

Buyers can express interest in the Buying Better Food & Drink agreement, which is due to launch in late 2024. Food procurers in the public sector can express their interest now by emailing

Written by
Edward Waddell