The good news for both farmers, suppliers and consumers is that the amount of Welsh-produced food bought by public sector bodies across Wales has risen over the last few years. A survey commissioned by the National Assembly Government has reported that almost half of all food and drink bought by schools, hospitals and local authorities in Wales is now of Welsh origin, while the amount of locally-produced food bought by the public sector has risen by 65.8% in the last six years.
The 2010 Welsh Public Sector Food Purchasing survey reveals that Local authorities have increased their purchases of local food by 90.5% over the last six years. Key categories include bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, ready meals, soft drinks, dairy products and water. The NHS (in Wales) purchases 69% of the food and drink products in Wales, when it comes to milk on average, 50.9% of all the milk purchased by Welsh local authorities for schools is locally-produced.
When it comes to Welsh purchases in higher education, accounted for 41.3% in 2009, compared with 28.7% in 2003, in the field of further education some,e 39.6% of purchases were of Welsh origin, up from a previous figure of 16.8%. The survey reveals that the only organisations to have bought less Welsh food than previously were the MoD and the Welsh Police Forces, which saw a 0.4% decrease in Welsh origin purchases.
One of the priorities of the Welsh Assembly Government, that was set out in One Wales was a Local Sourcing Action Plan, to encourage local procurement of food and drink by the public sector. The plan to encourage more local purchasing which will leads to money being reinvested in local communities and local businesses. This also leads to a reduction in food miles, reduces carbon emissions which helps to fight climate change.
The Plaid driven One Wales government strategy has begun a process that should lead to real social, economic and environmental benefits for our communities beginning the process by keeping the money spent in the local economy. This commitment to sustainable development is a good example of how local investment can provide a range of benefits across the whole of Wales benefiting local farmers, local suppliers and producers and local people.