Public procurement - Divide and conquer

23 March 2018 - Published by Hein Braaksma
Divide and conquer has become a popular method for public kitchens to acquire more local food. In this method the public procurement is divided into smaller parts based on specific products in order to help smaller suppliers or producers to meet the set criteria.

There is a large interest amongst public organizations in Sweden to use local products in their kitchens. Despite this and a good match between demand and supply for several products it has proved difficult for public kitchens to acquire food from local producers. One reason for this is the long time-frame for the procurement process, which leads to the desire to minimize the number of procurements. In order to do this, organizations often choose to write large procurements including a wide range of products, something that prevents smaller producers to meet the set criteria.

How does it work?
By dividing the procurement into smaller parts it is easier for smaller suppliers or producers to meet the set criteria’s. A producer is usually focused on one or a few specific products and can therefore not enter a procurement call including several products. Separate procurement calls for different product enables a producer to enter that specific call. Before dividing or separating specific products from the larger procurement it is important to gain information about which products can be supplied by a local market. One way to map the existing regional market is to allow producers/suppliers to submit a declaration of interest prior to the procurement. The declaration should state which products they can deliver, what volumes they can supply and what kitchens they are able to deliver their products to. The procurement can then be divided based on the information submitted by producers/suppliers.

The benefits for the producers and consumers
There are several benefits with using this method. These include:

  • Public organisation can increase the amount of local food products in their kitchens and still follow the procurement procedures.
  • A single producer can keep specialising on one or a few products but still have a chance to win a public procurement.
  • The consumers get a better contact with their producers and can more easily follow the product all the way through the chain.
  • Producers can get an increased insight in the demands (i.e. kind of product, volumes, form of delivery) from public organizations in the region.
  • Public organisation can get an increased insight in the regions assets.