Briefing: Local Food - benefits, obstacles and opportunities

This paper gives an overview of what local food economies are, the benefits of and obstacles to more local food, and the priority measures needed to support local food economies.

Sustainable Food Chains briefing papersThis briefing paper, reviewing benefits, obstacles and opportunities for local food systems - is one of several on themes relating to Sustainable Food Chains. It formed part of an initiative started by Sustain in 2002, to promote local and sustainable food.

The Sustainable Food Chains project supported the research and implementation of the government's Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI), set up to help British farming and sustainable production following the devastating effects on farming and the rural economy of foot and mouth disease. The work also informed development of the Making Local Food Work programme, as well as Sustain's successful Good Food on the Public Plate project, which helped public sector institutions buy and serve more local and sustainable food. Subsequently, Sustain has also worked to change public sector food policy through the Good Food for Our Money campaign, Sustainable Fish City and the Campaign for Better Hospital Food.

Over a period of two years, Sustain's activities as part of the Sustainable Food Chains project included:

  • Establishing contact with interested bodies at regional, national and European level, currently developing, orplanning to develop, policy options.
  • Developing policy recommendations for the statutory, private and voluntary sectors to support sustainable food economies, with the publication of ‘Local Food: What are the policy options?’
  • Organising a national conference to discuss and develop policy recommendations.
  • Producing a technical manual on public procurement with case studies. This will include a ‘How to do it’ guide on buying and supplying local/fair trade and organic food including legal and contractual aspects, supply chain issues, and ideas for catering options.
  • Establishing pilot projects. We intend to establish work in tandem with the technical manual and highlight experience gained at local level.
  • Producing briefing papers on local food and public sector catering and the potential for sustainable food providing health, farming, and environmental benefits.
  • Advising and negotiating with government at European, national, regional, and local level for changes in policy and action to support the public procurement of sustainable food.
  • Responding to consultations from national and European government and others on public procurement issues.

Making Local Food Work


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