New strategy approved to encourage smaller food and drink businesses to tender and supply to Lancashire County Council

FDMB North West understands that approval has been given by Lancashire County Council’s authority’s cabinet who voted in favour of a new strategy which will mean suppliers of certain food and drink products to Lancashire County Council schools and care homes are responsible only for providing their produce, and not distributing.

Lancashire County Council hope that this new strategy will encourage a more competitive tendering process, and as Lancashire County Council Leader Geoff Driver said, “be of significant benefit” to small and medium-sized producers, which sometimes found the requirement to deliver goods over a wide area a “prohibitive factor”.

The contracts are due to come into operation in 2020 and FDMB North West once again understands that they will be divided into lots for the supply of frozen food, groceries, flour and rice and confectionary and soft drinks. They will all be advertised at a later date.

Significantly, and at the centre of the new plan, is that all of county hall’s food and drink purchases will be distributed by a single firm – which will also supply all of the authority’s fresh fruit and vegetables. That overarching contract is due to be advertised shortly and will commence next May.

As part of the same procedure, supply-only bids will be invited to provide produce including milk, cooked meat, cheese, eggs and sandwich fillings. A similar arrangement has been in operation for these products for the last three years.

FDMB North West understands that a report presented to cabinet said that the option of offering multiple contracts for distribution had been dismissed, because of the “requirement for consistency of service across the school and college network”.

Potential bidders will have to demonstrate their “social value” – including how they will promote healthy eating in schools, training and employment opportunities for the people of Lancashire and environmental sustainability.