21 April 2021

Leading the way in public food procurement

Scotland Excel's portfolio of food frameworks has seen a rise in Scottish produce over recent years.

Over the last decade Scotland Excel has led the way in public food procurement, pushing its food portfolio to deliver value, quality produce for councils, while also creating wider benefits for Scotland’s economy.

Our food contracts, which include milk, meats, frozen foods, groceries, bread, rolls, fruit and vegetables, are now worth a collective £82m a year.

They help to supply the products served up in schools, nurseries, care homes and community centres across the country.

Locally sourced

Locally sourced produce has become an increasing priority for councils, so we stepped up our role to make sure public sector food contracts are more accessible to Scottish businesses. This also underpins the Scottish Government’s drive to make sure the power of public spending is used to boost Scotland’s economy.

For example, we were keen to support the government’s Dairy Action Plan to include more Scottish produce in our groceries contract for yoghurt, butter, cheese, and margarine.  So we included a secondary price list within the tender to allow suppliers to offer Scottish dairy products. 

As a result, a range of Scottish dairy products are now available for councils to buy.  By switching their cheese to a Scottish product, local authorities have generated £1.1m of business for the Scottish cheese sector. 

And to bring more Scottish produce onto our meats framework, while still being in line with procurement regulations, we were able to specifically ask for Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb by including Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in our tender. 

When developing our frozen food framework, we gave suppliers the opportunity to bid to supply food only to create opportunities for smaller companies that didn’t have national delivery logistics in place.  As a result, an Aberdeenshire-based fish supplier secured a place on the contract to supply Scottish haddock which has created the potential for £1m of new business for this small, family-owned company.  

This approach was so successful that we followed it for our groceries framework, resulting in five SMEs being awarded a place on the framework.

Across the whole food portfolio, spending by councils on Scottish products has continued to rise. Over the past five years, it has increased from £8.8m to £15.8m, and it now accounts for more than 36% of all spend through our food contracts.  Not only is this approach good for Scottish businesses, but it’s helping to create a greener Scotland by reducing our food miles.


As our food portfolio continues to evolve, we will keep engaging with Scottish food producers and manufacturers, while continuing to support the delivery of healthy and nutritious school meals through our frameworks. 

We work closely with suppliers and local councils to make sure our frameworks meet all relevant legislation requirement; particularly The Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and Setting The Table - Nutritional guidance and food standards for early years childcare providers in Scotland (2018).

We also continue to work with a number of key stakeholders across Scotland including the Soil Association, Scotland Food and Drink, Quality Meats Scotland, APSE and ASSISTFM.