Departments patchy on local food

1 March 2010

1 March 2010 | Jake Kanter

UK government departments have been inconsistent in their approach to purchasing local food.

A report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found 13 central government departments had increased local food procurement between April 2008 and March 2009, while eight departments purchased the same or less domestic produce than before.

The Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Justice were among those that bought less local food.

It comes months after the public sector received sharp criticism from campaigners for not sourcing enough local and sustainable produce.

Defra said that 90 per cent of the milk, eggs, and potatoes used by departments came from Britain. In addition, departments now purchased 7 per cent more British bacon and 10 per cent more local vegetables including celery, leeks, and lettuce.

But food and farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick admitted there was room for improvement. He said: “We know there’s still more government departments could do, and there are areas where British producers could potentially be supplying more to the public sector.”

The government, which spends around £2 billion on food, has said it must lead by example on local food procurement to help maintain future food security.

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