Routes to sustainability in public food procurement: An investigation of different models in primary school catering

Angela Tregear*, Zorica Aničić, Filippo Arfini, Beatrice Biasini, Martina Bituh, Ratko Bojović, Ružica Brečić, Mary Brennan, Irena Colić Barić, Daniele Del Rio, Michele Donati, Jelena Filipović, Francesca Giopp, Ana Ilić, Gianluca Lanza, Konstadinos Mattas, Steve Quarrie, Alice Rosi, Maysara Sayed, Francesca ScazzinaEfthimia Tsakiridou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Increasingly, policymakers are setting ambitious goals for sustainability in public procurement, integrated across different pillars. Such ambitions are apparent in public catering services, where procurement models have been shifting towards greater localisation of supply chains and purchasing of more organically grown food. To date however, few studies have examined empirically what the impacts of different procurement models are across these multiple pillars of sustainability. This research aimed to fill the gap, by measuring and comparing the environmental, economic and nutritional outcomes of different models of school meals procurement. Case studies were undertaken of ten primary school meals services in five European countries, capturing different procurement model types. Results showed carbon emissions ranged from 0.95 kgs CO2e per meal in the lowest case to 2.41 kgs CO2e in the highest case, with adoption of low carbon food waste disposal methods and reduction of the amount of ruminant meat in the menus being the most important actions for lowering emissions. In terms of economic impact, local economic multiplier ratios ranged from 1.59 to 2.46, and although the level of local food sourcing contributed to these ratios, the effect was eclipsed, in some cases, by investment in local catering staff. Meanwhile, implementation of a robust standards regime and improving canteen environment and supervision were the most important actions for nutritional quality and intake. The paper discusses the implications of the findings for integrated, sustainable models of food procurement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number130604
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date20 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sustainable procurement
  • public sector catering
  • localisation
  • food supply chains
  • economic impact
  • nutritional impact


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