6 July 2021

Sustainable Public Procurement of Food: A goal within reach

The EU Food Policy Coalition, of which ICLEI - Local Goverments for Sustainability is a member, has published a paper about the gains of implementing sustanable food procurement in a comprehensive form. The authors of the paper provide five key arguments to support its point.

Firstly it notes that sustainable food procurement needs to be strategic as it has the potential to support systemic change and address all the challenges of the EU food system as outlined in the EU’s Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy. Public procurement makes up 14-16% of the EU’s gross domestic product, while social food service market in the EU is estimated to be worth 82 billion euro.

Furthermore, the paper's authors argue that sustainable food procurement can be cost-effective and is working across Europe, citing various examples from a diverse selection of European countries. It is not seen as a challenge that many local and regional governments still see local food purchase as protectionist behavior in conflict with the principle of non-discrimination and the single market. The paper therefore argues that EU public procurement legislation needs to clarify issues of local/regional food procurement. Finally, it is emphasised that sustainable school food procurement is a ‘low hanging fruit’ for the implementation of the F2F Strategy, in light of the planned review of the EU school scheme legal framework.

The Coalition notes that the information presented in this paper seeks to contribute to the strategic implementation of the Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy, particularly with regards to determining “the best modalities for setting minimum mandatory criteria for sustainable food procurement to promote healthy and sustainable diets, including organic products, in schools and public institutions.”

The coalition’s broader aim is to “change the way we make policies, adopting systemic approaches, and providing the tools we need to spark those changes”, arguing that “EU policies, and in particular the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), have so far failed to drive a transition towards sustainable food systems.”

More information on the coalition can be found here.

The paper can be found here