Localise West Midlands, in partnership with Advantage West Midlands, Sustain, Local Food Works and the Countryside Agency organised a conference in July 2003 on the opportunities for public procurement of local food in the West Midlands Region.
Conference report: Local Government, Local Foodm
Since this conference, work on localising public procurement in the West Midlands has developed significantly, led by Advantage West Midlands’ Farming and Food Team, with a Regional Strategic Group and a Regional Practitioners Group working on solutions. LWM remains involved in these groups. Comprehensive further information can be found on the Farming and Food Team‘s website.
Moving over to more localised supply chains can bring economic benefits to a region, help to enhance linkages between urban and rural communities, improve food quality in public institutions and can be significant in environmental terms by helping to reduce ‘food miles’, i.e. the distance which food is transported.
As these benefits gain recognition, public procurement of local food is becoming an important issue. Government support and recent research on the subject have generated much new knowledge on how public bodies can procure locally within existing legislation, and on the many economic and other benefits of doing so.
The conference used this knowledge and the experience of those involved in both supply side and procurement to identify how a greater proportion of the food supply for public bodies can be supplied by regional sources.
LWM also produced a report, Promoting ‘Look to the Local’ Solutions for Public Food Procurement, on local public procurement activities in the region in July 2003. It should be pointed out that since this report was written there have been many developments in public sector procurement in the region, and more up-to-date information can be found on the Farming and Food Team website, as above.