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OnePlanet - ICLEI The Power of the Public Plate. Analysis of Public Procurement Impact Across The Food Value Chain

  • Published on May 23, 2022

The One Planet Network food value chain analysis – undertaken in the context of the task group on catalysing science-policy action on SCP - demonstrates that procurement as part of the middle stage of the value chain has significant influence over the other stages across the value chain. In the European Union alone, the social food services market is worth an estimated €82 billion per annum (GIRA Foodservice 2014, as quoted here), a large share of which originates from public spending. While the majority of natural resource use and environmental impacts is taking place at the primary production stage, primary producers have a limited ability to shape food systems and change their production practices. Comparatively, while the actors along the middle stage value chain do not use the most resources themselves, they have a huge impact on the activities at either end. This stage of the value chain, which includes public authorities purchasing food items or contracting catering services, is also structurally powerful and has a disproportionate influence across both primary production and final consumption and to a large degree shapes both what food farmers produce and sell and what food consumers buy and eat.

This analysis has been done by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability as part of ‘Procurement across the value chain’ - project under the One Planet Network. The objective of the analysis is to better understand how procurement can be used as a tool to support more sustainable food systems. Based on a thorough literature review the analysis identified typologies of impact for sustainable food procurement affecting the different stages of the value chain as well as highlighting differences between world regions. In total 41 documents were screened, ranging from academic articles to guidance or reports by international organisations. In addition, the analysis draws from procurement-relevant outcomes of the ICLEI-FAO Independent Dialogues held in 26 cities around the globe. Particularly the ones organised by the City of Copenhagen on farm to fork procurement and the City of Izmir on nature-positive supply chains and food vulnerable people were insightful in this regard. The review resulted in the identification and curation of 7 impact typologies across UN World regions:

● Sourcing local through fresh and seasonal food items

● Smallholder-friendly procurement

● Supporting a healthy and nutritious diet

● Reducing waste from food and packaging

● Fair employment conditions

● Sourcing organic produce

● Increase of plant-based food and supporting animal welfare

Whilst the analysis gives details covering all UN World Regions Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Middle East, North America and South America, it is generalising and further in-depth analysis per world region or even country level is warranted. With procurement there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. The national and local legal context will further determine how procurement can be used exactly. In addition, between word regions and even countries there are vast differences between who has the mandate over food procurement i.e. centralised or decentralized or both. Overall, we emphasise that public procurement is only part of the solution, and highlighted in the analysis that market engagement and collaboration between meal planning and feeding programmes is key.

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