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The Changing Landscape of Public Food Procurement in Scotland

The Changing Landscape of Public Food Procurement in Scotland

Food for Life Scotland staff recently supported an event focussed on public procurement organised by our partners Scotland Excel, Sustainable Food Places and ASSIST FMThe Changing Landscape of Public Food Procurement in Scotland took place on the 29th of September 2022 and brought together key players from across the Scottish public and third sector working on the procurement agenda.  

Over 200 people registered to attend the event with representatives from all 32 Scottish local authorities, Scottish Government, COSLA and Scotland Food and Drink among many others. With the recent passing of the Good Food Nation Act combined with unprecedented turmoil in international supply chains, local sourcing and resilient supply chains have never been more important or more topical.

Simon Kenton Lake from Sustainable Food Places began the event by setting the scene for the discussions. Simon argued that public procurement in Scotland faces a crossroads, referencing the opportunity presented by the policy context set against the huge challenges of the cost-of-living crisis. “The Question is which road will we take?”  

The event then featured a range of speakers laying out exciting developments and examples of best practice from across the sector. Laura Muir from Scotland Excel described how they were working hard to increase Scottish produce within their frameworks.

John Davidson from Scotland Food and Drink discussed how public procurement needed to play an important role in their soon to be published update to Ambition 2030, their market growth strategy. Both speakers referenced Food for Life Scotland as a key partner in this agenda and cited the Food for Life Served Here Award as a mechanism through which these goals could be achieved.  

Examples of Best Practice  

These speakers were followed by break out rooms which Food for Life staff helped facilitate. The lively discussion across the groups focussed on best practice and opportunities for the future.  

The second half of the event featured speakers from local authorities leading the way on the local sourcing agenda. Food for Life Served Here award holders East Ayrshire and Shetland highlighted how they had managed to increase local produce in schools through developing local networks and creating a more resilient supply chain. 

Mark Hunter, Strategic Lead (Food and Facilities) at East Ayrshire Council said: “It’s about an investment in what you want to do locally. And we do see it as an investment. It is a long journey…. But we’ve managed to do it.”  

This was followed by representatives of South Lanarkshire Council who spoke about their exciting work mapping opportunities to increase local sourcing into the council by identifying and speaking to local businesses about the perceived benefits and barriers to accessing this route to market.  

What Next?  

The final break out session of the event discussed the appetite amongst attendees to attend a regular group bringing together stakeholders working on public procurement in Scotland. The consensus was that space for sharing ideas and best practice would be welcomed. Food for Life Scotland will continue to support this work and we are looking forward to engaging with this group going forward. In the meantime, local authorities across Scotland who want to have a discussion about how we can support local sourcing into school meals can get in touch with Lucie Wardle, our Supply Chain Development Manager –