The Welsh Government has launched a new initiative to encourage more local spending on food by the Welsh NHS, schools and local government to help support Welsh producers, create more jobs and boost prosperity in local communities, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething announced today.
A new online food procurement resource, ‘Buying Food Fit for the Future’ is part of wider Welsh Government plans to support Wales’ everyday local economies.
Estimates suggest the Foundational Economy accounts for four in ten jobs and £1 in every three that is spent in Wales.
Food is a crucial Foundational Economy sector which has faced, and is still facing, many challenges following Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently, the war in Ukraine and rising energy and fuel bills.
Public sector procurement has an important role in helping address these challenges and re-localising food chains, maximising self sufficiency and resilience.
The new legal guidance in the online resource clarifies what can be included in food tenders, whilst remaining compliant with procurement rules, to maximise opportunities for local food producers and suppliers.
Public sector food procurement in Wales is worth approximately £84.7 million per annum, with Local Government and NHS Wales together accounting for more than 80% of that.
Public sector purchasing from Welsh companies account for 58% of overall spend, and food of Welsh origin accounts for 23%.
The Universal Provision of Free School meals (UPFSM) commitment, ensuring that all primary school children in Wales will get free school meals by 2024, presents real opportunity for a major step change in policy and practice to transform the food system and address the disconnects within it. Collaborative working, data-sharing and building strong, ethical relationships between all the players throughout the food system will be key.
The Minister recently visited Gower View Foods at Cross Hands Food Park in Carmarthenshire, who are known as the UK’s number one independent butter packer, packing butter for most of the UK and Europe’s leading brands. The Minister also met with Ferrari Coffee, Bridgend. The producers are looking forward to the new guide which will encourage more Welsh food and drink to be used in the public sector.
Jon Lewis, Managing Director, Gower View Foods, said:
"Gower View Foods produce award winning products made in Wales and supply a range of organisations in the public sector.
"It is good to see the launch of the guide to public procurement to help increase the number of Welsh food and drink companies supplying the public sector."
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“There is great scope to further increase Welsh food onto public plates in Wales and support our local producers.
“Building the necessary capability and skills to embed Foundational Economy objectives across the Welsh public sector is crucial. By doing this, we can maximise opportunities for Welsh suppliers and build resilient, highly skilled supply chains. We can help grow these businesses, attract and retain new talent and recycle the Welsh pound in our communities.
“The online food procurement resource is part of the necessary toolset and support for public sector stakeholders and practitioners which will help to change mindsets to focus on value creation through our procurement activity, rather than cash savings so those wider benefits and wellbeing goals can be achieved.”
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
“In Wales we produce excellent food and drink, and I’m pleased to see this new initiative which will help the public sector buy local. This is good for our food producers and for the local economy. It will provide a great opportunity for producers and encourage more of the public sector to buy produce which is closer to home.”