In 2014, Defra published “A Plan for Public Procurement,” which showed that in 2010, the UK public sector spent over £2.4 billion annually on procuring food for beneficiaries including schools, hospitals, prisons, government agencies, and care homes. The Plan outlined new standards and guidelines for food procurement by public bodies, focusing on economic competitiveness, nutrition, and the production process. The report established a revised Government Buying Standard (GBS) and a ‘balanced scorecard’ for public procurement as part of a toolkit for food procurers of public bodies. Recently, there have been calls for the National Food Strategy commissioned by Defra to address food procurement.
Public procurement is currently governed by EU rules. The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto stated: “When we leave the EU, we will be able to encourage the public sector to ‘Buy British’ to support our farmers and reduce environmental costs”. After the transition period ends, the UK can change procurement rules, though this will be subject to other agreements, including the future relationship with the EU.