Organic in sustainable food public procurement: numerous benefits for a low-hanging fruit
Recent European initiatives related to food policies, among which the Farm to Fork Strategy, Organic Action Plan, and new legislative framework on sustainable food systems, have contributed to the growing political importance of sustainable food public procurement– and organic’s role in it.
Organic food in public canteens such as administrations, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, etc., can play a significant role in implementing the transformative objectives promoted by the EU and supported by citizens. Sustainable public procurement has positive consequences in a perspective of transforming our food systems.
From positive budgetary effects…
Sustainable public procurement has a positive effect on public budgets. The European Commission highlights its accelerating economic and budgetary effect in sectors where public institutions are the main purchasers. More organic, healthy, and plant-based products in sustainable public procurement have led to lower costs on public health as well as to fewer waste management costs because of less food waste.
Studies have shown that the same budget is maintained, with menu or recipes changes. The example of Copenhagen is often put forward: the city managed to reach 90% organic food it its public canteens without effect on expenditures. But it is not a unique case: the French city of Mouans-Sartoux managed to drastically reduce food waste by daily distributing fully organic and local food. These examples show that switching to sustainable public procurement, including organic products, does not increase the cost for public budgets.
… to increased accessibility and environmental benefits
From a socio-economic point of view, sustainable public procurement also helps to reduce inequalities in access to quality food and stimulates local and regional networks.
Sustainable public procurement also has beneficial effects on the environment. Studies have shown that it leads to up to 88% less waste in production, and up to 50% less food waste. Moreover, studies have shown that canteen staff benefiting from sustainable public procurement had higher job satisfaction and requested less sick leave.
Therefore, sustainable public procurement, including a share of organic products, has important benefits: positive consequences for public budgets, well-being of the staff, less food waste, positive impact on the environment,to name a few. Sustainable public procurement in public canteens is a real low-hanging fruit, to which IFOAM Organics Europe is strongly committed. Our feedback on the forthcoming new legal framework on sustainable food systems is the latest example.
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