Public procurers, local and regional governments, and caterers, producers and suppliers from across Europe have come together to exchange experiences, form partnerships, and discuss the economic, social and environmental challenges facing food systems in Europe at INNOCAT’s Sustainable Catering Forum in Ghent (Belgium). The event brought together food and catering experts from all levels of government to look at practical examples of eco-innovative procurement in catering and consider what the future of sustainable food might look like. Speakers included Deputy Mayor Martine de Regge, Vice Chair of the Procura+ Network; Professor Roberta Sonnino, a leading expert in sustainable food procurement at the Universit of Cardiff; and Robin Gourlay, responsible for Food and Drink Policy for the Government of Scotland (UK).
The event was hosted by City of Ghent, the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province in Belgium. The City of Ghent is a firm believer that local governments, by using their substantial buying power, can have a significant leverage to push the market towards innovation for more sustainable products and services. At the EcoProcura 2014 conference, which Ghent hosted, the city signed a sustainable procurement strategy, reaffirming its commitment to using public procurement as a driver for sustainability.
In terms of food and catering, the City of Ghent faces similar difficulties to those experienced in many cities across Europe. With no publicly-owned kitchens, Ghent does not have the possibility to prepare meals from scratch. It is necessary to procure a full catering service including food sourcing, preparation and delivery. This has not prevented the City from taking a strong stance in terms of sustainability. The city’s most recent school catering contract included requirements for recyclable packaging, different portion sizes to keep food waste under control, “meatless Thursdays”, and as little transport as possible when delivering meals.
For more information and to download the presentations, please visit the event page