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No. 229: Evaluation of smart food purchases. Local and organic public food purchases

Pedersen, A.B. & Jensen, A. 2017. Evaluering af Kloge Fødevareindkøb. Lokale og økologiske offentlige fødevareindkøb. Aarhus Universitet, DCE – Nationalt Center for Miljø og Energi, 90 s. - Videnskabelig rapport fra DCE - Nationalt Center for Miljø og Energi nr. 229. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR229.pdf  


This report evaluates Danish public sector organic/local food procurement (green public procurement) through 21 qualitative interviews, document analyses, data base analyses and analyses of statistical data. The purpose of the analysis is to document the results of the project ‘Kloge Fødevareindkøb’ (smart public food procurement) and to form the basis for further work on Danish public local/organic food procurement. ‘Kloge Fødevareindkøb’ was a project (2013-2016) of the institution ‘Madkulturen’ under the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food. The analysis in this report has been completed by researchers at Aarhus University for DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy. The analysis is structured around three subtasks: 

  1. Framework conditions: Which initiatives has the ‘Kloge Fødevareindkøb’ project taken to affect existing framework conditions for organic/local public food procurement and what are the effects?
  2. Counselling: To what extent, has the counselling from ‘Kloge Fødevareindkøb’ matched the need of the advised municipalities, and which counselling initiatives have been most effective?
  3. Co-operation in the value chain: Which barriers have local food producers experienced in relation to participate in initiatives of the project and – in a broader sense – to make agreements on public food procurement? 

In very brief, the main results are: 

The ‘Kloge Fødevareindkøb’ project has worked on different levels to affect the framework conditions – e.g. around procurement contracts, where some public institutions now find that there is larger room to manoeuvre for public purchasers. The project has also developed a range of digital tools for municipalities and other public institutions. Statistical data demonstrate that there has been a large increase in organic food procurement in public institutions (2013-2015), while there are indications that total public sector expenses have been very stable 2007-2015 according to an estimate. 

All municipalities and regions have been offered the possibility of receiving counselling; e.g. 38 of 98 municipalities are registered as having received counselling. Counselling has mainly been centered around two topics: a) Interpretation of existing procurement contracts/regulation or development of new contracts b) How to practically approach an organic/local food conversion in public institutions. Based on qualitative interviews, b) seems to have been the most successful counselling topic. The analysis demonstrates that Danish municipalities perceive a number of barriers for increasing local/organic food procurement: Existing regulation and contracts on public food procurement, logistics, producer capacity/security of supply, recruitment, lack of political will in some municipalities, lack of will among kitchen managers etc. in public institutions. 

Local, organic food producers experience barriers too: Knowledge gaps, security of supply, public institution focus on lowest price (in contrast to quality), political will among some politicians and purchasers, logistics, public procurement contracts. 

The report concludes by giving six recommendations: Counselling of local producers, evaluation of digital tools, establishment of food hubs, knowledge sharing between public institutions, carry on counselling, continue improving national and EU regulation on public food procurement.