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Making the case for public sector catering teams to buy more local food

23rd May 2024 - 08:44
public sector catering webinar local sourcing buy British
A commitment to serving more British food on public sector plates is not simply a sustainability tick box exercise, but is essential to cut the carbon footprint of catering, support farming in the UK, provide greater food security, and to help tackle the alarming loss of biodiversity.

That was the view of a panel of experts who discussed the topic ‘What’s the big deal about local sourcing’ in a webinar yesterday (May 22nd) that formed part of Public Sector Catering Week.

Taking part were:

•    Neil McCole from Campbell Brothers, the national meat wholesaler and catering butcher
•    Rich Osborn, chief executive of Equilibrium Markets (EM Food)
•    Clare O’Brien, head of new model development at Entegra PS
•    Steve Thomas, co-founder and chief executive of Ample Marketplace

They were in agreement that the UK food system was subject to a number of stresses, with Rich Osborn citing recent research that almost of half of British farmers surveyed were considering their long-term future in the industry.

And Steve Thomas highlighted figures from WRAP that 1m tonnes of British-grown food a year never made it past the farm gate.

They said that there were no quick fixes to the problems, but each found good reasons to hope that efforts to strengthen links between farmers and growers on one side and public sector caterers on the other would pay dividends.

One of these is the new Defra Better Food and Drink framework announced in March. Clare O’Brien of Entegra, the Sodexo subsidiary that won the contract to implement the framework, said she saw it as easing the way for more SME (small and medium enterprise) farmers, growers and distributors to get involved in supplying produce to the public sector.

You can view the webinar below.

Written by
David Foad