More Scottish food and drink could be served in schools, hospitals and other public buildings, under plans to boost the economy by making public-sector catering contracts more accessible to businesses in Scotland.
Scottish companies in the food and drink sector currently service around 48% of public contracts, which are worth around £750 million between now and 2021.
The Scottish Government today convened a summit with the food industry, including caterers and buyers, to discuss how Scottish firms could be helped to access the more public sector food and drink contracts, supporting the domestic food and drink sector.
Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “I want to see more of our schools, hospitals and public sector organisations taking advantage of the high quality food and drink produced in Scotland, so that school pupils, healthcare users and public sectors the length and breadth of Scotland can enjoy it.
“Currently, almost half of our public sector food and drink contracts are awarded to Scottish businesses, however I believe there is enormous untapped potential to do more and use the power of public sector spending to boost our own economy.
“Today we are bringing the whole supply chain together to discuss the barriers and opportunities to increase local sourcing, and boost the economic potential of the food and drink sector to make it more socially responsible.
“The benefits of supporting our world-class food and drink providers are huge. It is now the single biggest contributor to the Scottish economy, generating a turnover of around £14.4 billion, with much of this based across rural Scotland.
“It is also an example of how we must work to make the most of the current economic uncertainties posed by Brexit, coupled with the weak pound, which will mean that importing food into the UK is more expensive.
“I would urge all businesses that haven’t done so to sign up to the Scottish Government’s free online Public Contracts Scotland Website where they can be informed on all opportunities to supply the public sector in Scotland.”
Julie Welsh, Director, Scotland Excel, centre of procurement expertise for local government, said: “There is clearly untapped potential for public agencies to source food produced and processed across Scotland. Scotland Excel is working closely with public bodies and producers to develop the procurement ‘know-how’ and value-for-money awareness needed to take maximum advantage of this opportunity. Much of this effort is focussed on increasing opportunities within our procurement frameworks and across all those in the supply chain.
“Closer collaboration in this area will give fresh impetus to this effort and help all concerned to gain better insight into the changing requirements of public sector customers, especially critical factors such as nutrition and health outcomes. Given current global trends, including the growing importance of food security, this is an area of high priority to all in our successful food and drink sector.”
Scotland Excel is the centre of procurement expertise for the local government sector in Scotland. It is a non-profit making organisation funded by all 32 councils and is one of the Scottish public sector’s most successful shared services.