7 July 2021

Sustainable Public Procurement of Food: a Goal Within Reach

The EU Food Policy Coalition, of which ICLEI Europe is a member, has published a paper titled "Sustainable Public Procurement of Food: a Goal Within Reach" about the gains of implementing comprehensive sustanable food procurement. The paper was coordinated and led by ICLEI, and outlines five key arguments to support its point.

First, it notes that sustainable food procurement needs to be strategic, recognising its 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 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product, while the social food service market in the EU is estimated to be worth 82 billion EUR.

Furthermore, the paper's authors argue that sustainable food procurement can be cost-effective and that it works across Europe, citing examples from a diverse selection of European countries.

Many local and regional governments see local food purchasing as protectionist behaviour 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, the authors emphasise that sustainable school food procurement is ‘low hanging fruit’ for the implementation of the F2F Strategy, in light of the planned review of the EU school scheme legal framework.

The EU Food Policy 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.”

For more information on the Coalition, click here. Read their "Sustainable Public Procurement of Food: a Goal Within Reach" paper in full by clicking here.