Launching the results at the Ploughing Championships of a nationwide survey undertaken of public organisations, institutions and agencies into their procurement policy of food, IFA president John Bryan was critical of a number of respondents for their lack of commitment to local food producers.
“Taxpayers’ money is underpinning the work of those we surveyed, and IFA feels very strongly that our food industry should be supported in return. The Defence Forces, in particular, has a very poor record in buying Irish. One-third of its beef is sourced outside the Republic and none of its bacon is sourced here,” he said.
The IFA president was also critical of the health services. “Some of the biggest offenders are hospitals, whose record on buying Irish is at odds with official HSE policy. The HSE, which spends €32m a year on food, responded to our survey and said the standard sought from suppliers ‘should reach at a minimum An Bord Bia Quality Assurance Programme or equivalent quality assurance scheme’. Yet individual hospitals cite availability and price as the reasons for sourcing from abroad. Clearly, there is a disconnect between what the HSE says it does and what hospitals decide when sourcing food”.
John Bryan said there was a trend in some of the replies to the survey to pass responsibility over to outside catering companies, which was “unacceptable”.