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Food: Procurement

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 26 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's policy is on the purchase of food from local sources. (186435)

We have helped to support local sourcing with funding for a range of measures, which allow regional and local food producers to overcome barriers to the effective marketing of their products. Examples include “meet the buyer” events, encouragement for food hubs and shared distribution facilities, and key training seminars.

Support from DEFRA has been boosted by the regional development agencies (RDAs), helping activities to do with the promotion of quality regional and local food culture. The level and type of RDA funding reflects each region's priorities as set out in regional economic strategies. RDAs also deliver aspects of DEFRA's rural development programme for England (RDPE). Support is available under the RDPE to improve the competitiveness of a wide range of rural businesses, which can include local and regional food producers.

We have also commissioned research aimed at enabling policy makers, support organisations and the supply chain to better understand the regional and local food sector. One of these projects will investigate the practicalities and benefits of local food production. Other work will examine consumer attitudes and actual purchasing behaviour. The results will be published on our website.

Finally, DEFRA's ongoing public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) was launched in 2003 to help deliver the Government's sustainable farming and food strategy. This aims to increase opportunities for small and local producers to tender for contracts to supply food to the public sector. Our funding for this initiative supports workshops for buyers and suppliers, regional pilot projects to develop the supply side, and a range of guidance materials aimed at both food producers and public sector buyers. More information on the PSFPI can be found on the DEFRA website.