The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) is leading the way in unlocking the huge market for food and drink products in the public sector with the appointment of the area’s first dedicated public procurement manager.
Andy Berry will work with producers and buyers to get high quality nutritious local food on the menus of schools, hospitals, prisons, local authorities, universities and emergency services across South West England.
Mike Johns, South West RDA Food and Enterprise Manager, said:
“The public sector provides a potentially huge market for local food producers in the South West. If regional organisations can buy locally it also cuts down on the number of ‘food miles’ that produce has to travel to reach its consumer, which is better for the environment and more sustainable in the longer-term.
“However, it is difficult for new businesses to break into the market and the public sector finds it hard to identify suppliers that are able to meet their stringent processes. This can make the procedure of tendering a costly and daunting one for small producers. Andy’s appointment will help companies to negotiate the process and limit their costs.”
Working in close partnership with organisations such as Taste of the West, Berry's role will include promoting local food to buyers through face-to-face meetings and events such as school visits to farms where they can receive talks and demonstrations from local producers. He will also be setting up a new website listing the public sector contracts available so that suppliers can identify products which they may be able to provide.