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Sustain Olympic Food

Promoting sustainable food businesses

The Olympic and Paralympic Games is routinely associated with international brands and corporate sponsorship, and the major food brands McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury had a strong presence at London 2012, particularly in the Olympic Park itself. Read Sustain's critique of junk food sponsorship in The Obesity Games.

Olympic StadiumHowever, the Olympic and Paralympic Games also need to be an opportunity for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from diverse backgrounds to flourish. This was especially important for enterprises in the Host Boroughs - the London Boroughs of:

Engaging SMEs is a significant opportunity for an important regeneration legacy, leading to more robust and well-trained local businesses able to ‘raise their game’ and compete for better contracts in future. Large-scale events are also significant opportunities to engage with SME farmers, food processors, distributors, catering companies, trainers and others in providing ingredients, packaging, waste management and other food-related goods and services for the Games.

Our experience tells us that this deserves special attention, so:

  • Requirements need to be built into all catering contracts for larger companies to demonstrate how they will engage with diverse SMEs, particularly in the Host Boroughs.
  • Support services are needed to help SMEs with (for example):
    • training and information on issues such as food safety; Olympic requirements; food sustainability; energy and fuel efficiency; and tendering
    • reduced-cost collaborative accreditation programmes, e.g. Safe and Local Supplier Approval (Salsa), MSC Chain of Custody for sustainable fish and LEAF-Marque
    • brokerage, to link farmers with smaller processors, processors with caterers, strategycompliant packaging companies with manufacturers, etc.
  • Good communications are needed for SMEs to identify food opportunities; understand key sustainability issues; and participate in match-making with larger service providers

In the lead-up to 2012, tenders and contracts for catering and related services for the London 2012 Games were published on the CompeteFor website: Sustain encouraged any caterers or catering equipment suppliers interested in winning contracts for the Games to register their details on CompeteFor. However, experience showed that this was not necessarily the best place for farmers, food producers and food distributors to find suitable opportunities. In 2011, London Food Link and the Ethical Eats project therefore re-launched its Local Food Finder and updated Real Bread Finder, to help SME food businesses - and those meeting ethical and sustainability criteria - to promote their local and sustainable food products and services.






Olympic Food: Sustain ran a five-year programme of work to win healthy and sustainable food standards for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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