West Country food and drink producers are getting a leg-up which should help them unlock the huge value of selling direct to the public sector.

The south west Regional Development Agency recently appointed the area’s first dedicated public procurement manager, Andy Berry, who aims to marry up sellers with public sector buyers.

“This is a new opportunity for farmers – the public sector market in the south-west is worth £140m a year.

Public buyers also offer five-year contracts, often for substantial volumes, and will often take class two produce which the supermarkets won’t.”

Mr Berry aims to get local food onto the menus of schools, hospitals, prisons, local authorities, universities and emergency services across the region.

He is also setting up a website advertising upcoming tenders and plans to hold workshops for both buyers and sellers.

“Larger farmers will have the opportunity to supply the public sector direct, while smaller producers can access the market through wholesalers,” he said.

Mike Johns, south west RDA food and enterprise manager, said:

“It is difficult for new businesses to break into the market and the public sector finds it hard to identify suppliers that are able to meet their stringent processes.

“This can make the procedure of tendering a costly and daunting one for small producers.

Andy’s appointment will help companies to negotiate and limit their costs.”

For more information contact Andy Berry on 07795 160 815.