London Food Link hospital food project distribution research report

This research report, which was commissioned by London Food Link, and carried out by Westley Consulting Ltd, highlights some of the distribution barriers which are facing local and organic food producers when selling to the London market, and for purchasing organisations such as hospitals to buy locally made and locally distributed foods.


London Food Link hospital food project food distribution research report 2004This research report, published in 2004, was commissioned by London Food Link, and carried out by Westley Consulting Ltd, highlights some of the distribution barriers which are facing local and organic food producers when selling to the London market, and for purchasing organisations such as hospitals to buy locally made and locally distributed foods.

It concluded that, in relation to the size of the London food market as a whole, hospitals were relatively small customers, who are broadly content with their current procurement arrangements. There were barriers to entry into these markets, as existing suppliers are well-established, and the best means of entry for local food producers may be to work with these operators, at least in the first place. Someone has to manage amalgamation and consolidation of supplies, and there is an important role for intermediaries.

The researchers also commented that "We believe that it will be a medium- to long-term job for local food to make a significant impact in London. We believe that to succeed, local food has to be seen to be a quality product. It has to be more than just local, and it should be more sustainable than the mainstream alternative. It therefore needs to be defined by reference not just to its origin (local) but to its production standards (sustainability). Work will be needed to develop this sustainable standard, and meanwhile local food producers need to focus on the needs of existing customers. Producers will need a great deal of information and technical support, and will need to work to a high level of professionalism. Customers, intermediaries such as holesalers, and consumers will need to be mobilised to stimulate demand and facilitate supply."

The results of this research were used to develop the pioneering two-year Hospital Food project, run by Sustain and the Soil Association, working with many partner organisations. This helped four London hospitals to increase their purchase and use of healthy and sustainable food.

In 2012, Sustain launched the Campaign for Better Hospital Food. Please get involved to help win compulsory health and sustainability standards for food served in hospitals!

Report contents

  • Summary
  • Background to the project
  • Market needs
  • Previous work on local food
  • Current distribution mechanisms
  • Barriers to distribution
  • Other barriers
  • Vision for a sustainable local food distribution system
  • Recommendations
  • Annex A. List of organisations and individuals consulted
  • Annex B. References

30/06/2004
Good Food on the Public Plate

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