Following the initiative of a CCRI team funded by the ROBUST project (funded by the EU Horizon programme), The National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) was able to support Gloucestershire being part of initial conversations about being a pilot exploring Public Sector food procurement with SMEs. This initiative was a partnership including the Crown Commercial Services (CCS), Gloucestershire County Council and the CCRI. The original pilot provided valuable insights into the food procurement of many of the County’s Anchor Institutes and an opportunity to examine the County’s current food system.
This procurement project, also working with BoomCircle, the National Farmers Union, the South West Food Hub and FWAG SouthWest, conducted a grassroots survey with local suppliers and farmer focus groups to build evidence to demonstrate their appetite for growing a local procurement market with initial engagement activity also being undertaken with key anchor institutions.
As one of NICRE’s innovation projects, run by the CCRI, work is ongoing to understand the barriers to local procurement throughout the supply chain and liaise with rural businesses and communities to develop new approaches and realise new opportunities.
Work is also taking place with procurement teams in the public sector and private hospitality sectors to raise awareness and influence changes to buying behaviour to incorporate more local produce. GFFP, recently worked with Visit Gloucestershire and Made in Gloucestershire to explore barriers to local procurement and opportunity for carbon reduction in menus. Shortening supply chains is an area of focus both organisations and for Gloucestershire to obtain a Sustainable Food Places bronze award.
This is a complex area, involving many stakeholders and GFFP are currently working with CCRI and NICRE on a feasibility study for a neighbouring region who obtained funding to explore the potential for dynamic procurement. There is much work to unfold in this area and significant opportunities for the County in learning how adopting more local supply chains can assist the GFFP vision.