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The Power of the Public Plate - Recommendations for procurers and policy makers

  • Published on January 17, 2022

This is a collection of actionable recommendations for procurers and policy makers towards procuring food from a value chain perspective.

Public procurers hold the power to influence the entire food value chain and through their decisions can affect both production and consumption practices. This position creates a strategic opportunity to leverage public sector demand for sustainable development. Seizing the potential, however, comes with great complexity as it requires innovation within the respective procurement system, connecting the actual procurement to a much wider process linking to policy goals and engaging various stakeholders. As a means to share how to turn this opportunity into implementation, we draw from the experience of champions of public food procurement as featured in the Power of the Public Plate Podcast as well as relevant guidance and case studies from across the world. The ‘Value-Chain Approach’ is a methodology for catalysing science-based policy action on sustainable consumption and production, developed by the International Resources Panel and the One Planet Network (2021). The actionable recommendations are meant to support public procurers as well as policy makers tasked with contributing to a sustainable food value chain. The document distinguishes cross-cutting and specific recommendations. Among them are: 

  • Adopt system thinking & strategic linking
  • Establish multi-level governance arrangements
  • Source locally through fresh and seasonal food items
  • Support smallholder farmers
  • Support a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Enable fair employment conditions
  • Source organic produce
  • Reducing waste from food and packaging
  • Increase the share of plant-rich food and support animal welfare

Public food procurement can have enormous impact. As the value-chain approach highlights, public procurers are strategically placed along the food value chain to have a great deal of influence on both production and consumption patterns, based on their purchasing decisions. If seized for the benefit of people and planet, this impact can contribute to a responsible, healthy and resilient food value chain. Whilst the recommendations are not a panacea and need to be tailored to local contexts, they are a means to turn food for thought into food for action.

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