Public procurement by partnership with local food business

by: Camilla Freitag, Naturbruksförvaltingen i Västra Götalandsregionen

Despite an increasing interest amongst public organizations to use local products in their kitchens acquiring such products have proven challenging. To overcome this challenge a dialog between the organizations along the food chain is evolving. The increasing dialog along the chain have for example resulted in different kinds of partnerships between public organizations and local food businesses.

How does it work?
A public organization can initiate a partnership (through public procurement) with a regional supplier, producer or other kind of food business. This partnership can for example be about a specific product or be part of a schools curricula.

Partnership for a specific product
After entering the partnership the supplier/producer is responsible for covering the consumer’s entire need of a specific product. For example, a municipality in Sweden have exchanged their purchases from wholesalers with a partnership with a regional organization that delivers meat to all their public kitchens. This organization buys whole animals that they slaughter, cut and deliver to the kitchens. The idea is that the consumer easier can purchase regionally produced produce.

Include in curricula
Several Swedish schools have healthy eating and understanding the origin of different food product as a part of their curricula. Some have for example started projects in collaboration with farmers to enable the students to follow the food from field to fork. The students visit the farms and can for example follow an animal to slaughterhouse where they make sausage on the meet from the animal. As a last step the sausage is cooked in the school kitchen. For higher level education in for example cooking the partnership can be used as a base for discussions about the quality of produce and food products. Different production methods and origin can potentially create produce of variable quality. This kind of partnership is manly for introducing local products in small scale to school kitchens while deepening the students’ knowledge in the area. It can however be used in procurement procedures by for example having a criteria stating that it should be possible to visit the farm delivering the produce.

The benefits for the partners
A partnership can be a way for different food businesses to market their business to a new audience and find new potential labor for the future. It can also be a way to secure a certain sales volume and creating new business contacts. Public organizations can through a partnership acquire local produce to their kitchens, strengthen the education about food origin and production as well as improve the cooperation between rural and urban areas. The partnership also creates a unique opportunity for the partners to understand other parts of the chain and adapt to need the needs of the other partners. This can be a first step towards a larger procurement agreement between public kitchens and local food businesses.

Contact information
Camilla Freitag, Naturbruksförvaltingen i Västra Götalandsregionen