Skip to main content

Food Expenditure

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on food by her Department and by each of the agencies for which it is responsible in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03; what proportion of that food by value was produced; what guidance she has issued to encourage the procurement of home-produced food; and if she will make a statement. [129372]

Expenditure on food in Defra is generally limited to official hospitality provided by Defra and canteen subsidies. Records of spend on food provided at some external conferences and like events are not kept centrally and so will not be included. In 2001–02 Defra recorded expenditure of £139,984 on hospitality and £395,277 on canteen subsidies. The figures for 2002–03 were £202,029 and £409,179 respectively.Information made available by canteen service providers indicates that on average 67 per cent. of the food they procured was produced in the UK. Therefore, the monetary value of UK produced food supplied to Defra as official hospitality and indirectly through subsidies is estimated to be £357,509 in 2002–02 and £408,287 in 2002–03.Defra has published a "Guidance and action Sheet for buyers and their internal customers" that includes guidance on local sourcing and in particular how to remove obstacles to tendering faced by local and UK suppliers. It can be seen on our website at: farm/sustain/procurement/index.htm. Defra has also produced a model food procurement action plan with guidance for completion that includes an objective concerned with opening up opportunities for local providers to compete for business. The guidance takes account of the Government's policy of achieving value for money in public procurement, and its commitment under the EC rules to ensure that public procurement is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory. We are also taking a number of other steps to integrate sustainable development into the public procurement of food and catering services. We have had bilateral meetings at Ministerial and senior management level (including with representatives of local government) and have published a number of case studies. A national conference on 26 November will raise awareness still further and that will be followed by regional workshops next year. Within Defra we are discussing with our catering service providers the scope they have for purchasing local and UK produce.