Increasing sustainability in food procurement

Sustainability is at the top of many agendas right now and is firmly at the core of our activities. Hospitality Assured supports a diverse range of hospitality sectors by providing a framework for creating and delivering sustainable value propositions with a duty of care to the relevant ecosystem.  With these principles in mind, Nigel Craine, Head of Schools & Residential Care Catering (HA Premier status) has developed a procurement strategy, based upon the principles of a circular economy, in his quest of ‘Feeding the Future of Lancashire’. This strategy to improve sustainability has relevance for all sectors and we are sure you’ll enjoy discovering more.


Lancashire Catering Service formed as a traded service to schools in 2000-01 and supports the delivery of approx. 65,000 meals per day across more than 500 educational establishments within Lancashire and surrounding areas. The service prides itself as a positive influencer of food and food choices, always considering where the food on children’s plates comes from, how it was produced and the standards it was produced to.

Developing a sustainable procurement strategy

The service has understood and employed the principles of reducing food miles and buying local for many years, with recent business planning placing greater emphasis on procuring increasing volumes of product and produce from Lancashire growers and producers. To support this aim, Lancashire Catering has developed a procurement strategy based upon the principles of the circular economy which offers multiple layers of benefit across the service, customer base and broader corporate objectives.

A recent achievement has been the introduction of a central multi-product hub/distribution centre, based in Lancashire, which will result in the combined delivery of approximately 90% of Lancashire schools food deliveries via one distributor.

Gaining collaboration

Achieving increased volumes of local sustainable food produce has required a progressive strategy which is reliant upon collaboration with local growers, producers and suppliers. Supplier engagement events provide advance notification of procurement planning (what we want in the future), social value expectations (local benefits), product requirements and nutritional expectations (food standards), route to market (competitive tendering) and producer standards (i.e. BRC Grade B). The advanced engagement provides potential suppliers with a clear understanding of service objectives and a progressive timeframe in which to gear up to meet these needs making it accessible to an increased number of growers and producers. Advanced planning, often looking ahead for up to 4-5 years’ time, is one of the greatest challenges and is critical for success.

Wide benefits

The procurement strategy also provides customers with a clear understanding of LCS’s core values, something which is helpful in planning their ongoing accreditation to Hospitality Assured. Nigel explains, “Our customers are able to understand the influence of the food procurement strategy and what this means in terms of the quality of food their pupils receive. It also helps our customers to understand that by collectively investing in high quality local and sustainable foods, we are better able to influence the wider economy and job opportunities for residents living in Lancashire.”

Accreditation to Hospitality Assured provides the service with a foundation for communicating and influencing their customer base in a cohesive and targeted way. Nigel sums this up, “Since joining the Hospitality Assured community, the service has developed a number of marketing strategies which have been aimed at informing and influencing our customers, prompting improved two way communications and the cross promotion of the customer/supplier relationship.”

All at Hospitality Assured are delighted to see these laudable aims in action and the benefits that are accruing – another wonderful example of the way in which our community works.

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