The Buy Better Food Campaign for sustainable food on the public plate, or simply Buy Better Food is the European advocacy campaign focusing on public food procurement as a key driver of food system transformation towards a sustainable, healthy, and fair food system in the European Union, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the EU Farm to Fork Strategy.
The decisions made by local and national authorities can influence our diets and food environments, especially because individuals do not always have control over their food choices. But public procurement can be used to leverage positive change, by exercising pressure and influence on both the supply side (i.e. how we produce food), and the demand side (i.e. what we consume).
Public food procurement can incentivise and facilitate: more organic production, shorter supply chains, better working conditions, and the consumption of healthier food and drinks. Furthermore, it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation, water pollution, biodiversity loss, the emergence of new pathogens, microbial resistance and non-communicable diseases, and can work towards guaranteeing workers’ rights within the agrifood system.
Public procurement can be a critical policy tool in reducing the environmental, climate and health impacts of Europe’s food system, while making the system more resilient to environmental, health, and geopolitical crises.
Better use of public money can help Europe transition to a healthier, more resilient and equitable food system that works for consumers, farmers, and the planet.
What are we concretely asking for?
The urgency for change is clear, and now there is an ideal window of opportunity to influence policy in support of sustainable public food procurement, triggering the food system transformation we urgently need. Indeed, the European Commission will publish by the end of September 2023 a new legislative framework for Sustainable Food Systems, which will include minimum public food procurement criteria to buy better food for the health of the planet, people and future generations, and a clear pathway for achieving this. To ensure that this framework meets its intended goals, we call on the European Commission to:
- Set minimum EU-wide food procurement requirements that benefit planetary health and are fair and inclusive to producers, communities, and future generations.
- Propose 2030 targets for:
- procurement of minimum 20% organic, high-quality, and sustainable food for public canteens, schools, and kindergartens - as stated in the Sustainable Food Procurement Manifesto;
- nutrition policies to be based on planetary health diets (more plant-rich, with ‘less and better’ meat and only demonstrably sustainable fish), while maintaining sensitivity and awareness to other factors like geographic location, cultural norms, and socioeconomic status (e.g. geographic location, culture, etc.).
- Enable the inclusion of educational programmes on healthy food systems and diets into school curricula - as stated in the Healthy School Meals Petition.
The Coalition also calls local, regional, and national policy makers to commit to sustainable public food procurement and reflect this in their work on European policies, showing that implementation on the ground is possible and already happening in many places around Europe.
If you are an organisation or local/regional government engaged in improving food quality and access in Europe, fill out this short form to join our Coalition!