Food and drink manufacturers in the UK could be set to benefit from a significant windfall thanks to a new government initiative.
Prime minister David Cameron and environment secretary Elizabeth Truss stated that from 2017 all central government departments will commit to buying fresh, locally sourced, seasonal food through a simplified food and drink purchasing standard. It is part of the government long-term economic plan to support British businesses and could see food and drink firms generate £400 million of new customers.
Launching 'The Plan for Public Procurement', Mr Cameron explained that the move was to back the nation's farmers. The goal is to create more jobs within the agricultural sector and also provide more investment to ensure that people are thinking about buying locally sourced produce and ultimately living a healthier lifestyle.
England's public sector currently spends £600 million on imported produce but the government notes that £400 million of this figure could be sourced from the UK. The introduction of the new buying standard means that British farmers will be able to tap into just over half of the £400 million while the public sector will be encouraged to support the use of the new framework.
Ms Truss added: "This move will mean that food served in canteens across the public sector can be more local, seasonal and tastier.
"It will help drive growth in Britain's first class food and drink industry and benefit the environment through reduced waste, higher take-up of meals and less unappetising food left on plates."
Suppliers will still need to apply for food and drink contracts from the public sector but they will be judged on five key criteria. This will include: how food is produced, the health and nutritional value of the food, resource efficiency of producing the food, quality service and value for money and how the food meets the government's socio-economic priorities.