News that the Government plans to centralise regional buying and distribution agreements across food and catering supplies to appoint one single ‘super supplier’ for schools, hospitals, care homes, local authorities and developed administrations, has sent shockwaves through the foodservice industry. The plan which seems to be at best ill-advised (if advised at all) and at worse, a step towards a monopoly has been met with criticism across the board, as industry experts, suppliers and wholesalers air their concerns at the lack of consultation.

In particular, there are worries that the huge amount of work that has gone into encouraging the use of British and locally sourced produce, high-welfare meat, and more plant-based options will be undermined. There have also been concerns raised around how this will affect SME’s who currently supply the public sector if one single wholesaler or consortium is awarded the contract which is estimated to be worth in the region of £100m.

The pandemic and Brexit have provided many learnings including the fragility of the food supply, so it seems counterintuitive to put everything with one supplier. FWD has responded to say that ‘this plan demonstrates the lack of understanding the Government seems to have when it comes to the complexity of public sector provision’. It feels like that with so many different requirements across the board, it’s exceptionally ambitious to think that one supplier can meet all these needs. Indeed, Argyll and Bute Food took to Twitter to say ‘it reads like an April Fool’s gag- an absolutely bizarre plan! Whilst The Public Sector Catering Alliance tweeted ’This isn’t good enough @GOVUK no consultation, no discussion that we are aware of? When are #publicfood experts going to get asked about what might actually work?’

Time will tell if the Government sticks to its guns or if it will take heed of the industry experts with decades of experience behind them and listen to the dissenting voices.

Public Sector Catering Magazine
Twitter: @ArgyllButeFood & @PSC_Alliance