Boycott promises Olympic showcase of best of British food

The 2012 London Olympics is set to have an significant impact on the way that public bodies buy food. And it could provide a showcase for British food at its best.

The Mayor's food adviser and chair of London Food Rosie Boycott told last week's European Food & Farming Partnerships conference: "The Olympics offers fantastic opportunities for British food." She said that the experience at Beijing Olympics - where the food supply was chaotic and choice was poor - has shown that London must have a proper food strategy.

"A special food team has been brought together," said Boycott. "It is the largest peacetime catering effort in British history." She said that the contracts being negotiated stipulated standards in such things as locality, seasonality and sustainability, telling HW: "This is the first time that food standards have been introduced into the procurement process." Additionally, contracts will stipulate that at least 70 per cent of the waste from the food production will be recycled and none will go to landfill.

Boycott added that smaller producers would be supported, both via a website and by being given access to the market. "There will be a legacy of procurement. It will show public bodies that standards should be an integral part of any contract," she said.

The speech was welcomed by the NFU horticulture board chair Sarah Pettit, who commented: "We need baseline standards of procurement. This should be accepted as a benchmark for all public contracts.'

Steve Jobson, buying director at food company Sodexo, which is bidding for Olympic catering contracts, said: "Most of the retailers have already embraced the idea of traceability and provenance. We have to do the same thing and show that we get products which are as local and seasonal as possible."

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