Plan for organic food in public contracts
Press Release 29.09.2023
Minister Hackett welcomes plan for organic food in public contracts
Minister Pippa Hackett, who has responsibility for organic farming in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has welcomed a proposal for 10% of food procured by Government to be certified organic.
The policy is contained in the Draft Green Public Procurement Strategy and Action Plan 2023-2027, which has gone to public consultation today, and which importantly also proposes that the level of seasonal produce purchased should be included as a key criterion in public sector food procurement.
These actions support the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity which called for more support for organic farming and procurement of seasonal produce.
Minister Hackett commented: “I have worked closely with my Green Party colleague Minister Ossian Smyth to get Government departments and State Agencies purchasing more organic and seasonal food, and I am delighted to see this reflected in the draft Green Public Procurement Strategy.
The number of organic farmers has doubled since I took office as Minister with responsibility for the sector, and experience across Europe has shown public procurement to be a key outlet for organic produce. This will be a significant support for the extra organic produce coming to market over the next few years as a result of the huge growth we have seen in organic farming in Ireland.”
Minister Hackett continued: “The Draft Green Public Procurement Strategy demonstrates this Government’s commitment to responsible consumption and production. Almost 700,000 tonnes of food are wasted in Ireland every year, and globally food waste contributes 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Food and beverage can account for up to a third of the cost of delivering meals, so it’s key that we reduce food waste in public procurement, which will in turn deliver significant savings that will allow us to purchase greater amounts of organic food.”
Alluding to Ireland’s environmental ambition, Minister Hackett noted: “We have a target under the Climate Action Plan of 10% of agricultural land in Ireland to be farmed organically by 2030, and one of the ways we can support even more farmers to make the switch is for the State to become a purchaser of organic food. There is huge potential to increase the share of Irish organic food in the Irish market, and I am excited to see the results of Bord Bia’s upcoming organic promotional campaign for consumers here in Ireland.”
Remarking on the market potential for Irish organic produce abroad, Minister Hackett added: “I led an organic trade mission to Germany earlier this year to help to grow the market for Irish organic produce, where the customer feedback was hugely positive, and I will travel to Paris next month for another key trade fair to showcase the best of what the Irish organic sector has to offer.”
Minister Hackett concluded: “The future is bright for Irish organic farming, and I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in the sector to make a submission to the public consultation. I think it will be really interesting to hear farmers’ and processors’ suggestions on the potential for Government to marry the organic requirement with the push for more seasonality in the food that public bodies procure. There will be times of the year that we can provide organic food more readily, and in much greater supply, and those months might well see much more than 10% organic food in canteens. Equally there will of course be months when supply will be a bit lower. The key will be to hit the 10% figure across the course of the year, and I am really looking forward to seeing our State agencies and Government Departments offer nutritious, tasty organic food, produced in a way that delivers for climate, biodiversity and water quality.”