An award-winning Bute food project could act as an inspiration to other suppliers hoping to win part a major contract with Argyll and Bute Council.
The Bute Fresh Food Project is being used as a model which could encourage other firms in the area as the local authority prepares to issue a tender worth at least £60,000 to supply fresh meat and fish to schools, school hostels and social care units.
The pilot project for the supply of fresh meat, eggs and cheese on the island, which obliged bidders to involve pupils with the production and sourcing of food through visits to the suppliers’ premises, was so successful that it was extended to a full term contract.
Now the council is organising a Suppliers’ Forum, to be held in Lochgilphead on Tuesday, March 25, to discuss how other local food producers might be able to work together to benefit from the contract, rather than opting into a Scotland-wide procurement deal.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to come along and meet the council’s buyers for this contract and discuss the possibilities available to suppliers,” explained the council’s leader, Cllr Dick Walsh.
“By encouraging local providers to explore collaborative bids for the forthcoming council contracts, and signposting the assistance available to help them do so, we hope to open the procurement opportunity out more widely.”
While the council cannot automatically discriminate in favour of local suppliers without breaking EU procurement rules, firms in the area may be better placed to meet some of the criteria for the tender, such as environmental and social sustainability.
As well as the social benefits for pupils from the Bute Fresh Food Project, environmental and economic sustainability issues were addressed through reducing waste and packaging, increased recycling and greater spend within the local economy.
If this approach to supplier engagement is successful, other products such as fresh fruit and vegetables could also be procured by the council in the same way.
The March 25 event will take place between 10am and noon at Kilmory Castle and the programme includes:
* Overview of the procurement process and the benefits of supplying the council
* Outline of the contract opportunity and the scope to do things differently
* Case study of an alternative approach
* Summary of the support available with procurement
* Question and answer session
* Networking and individual discussion
Anyone wanting to attend can book a place by contacting Elaine Appleby, Purchasing Officer, by March 18 - either by email to Elaine.email@example.com or by telephoning 01369 708594.