Council defends its school food sourcing

4 tractors blue sky
4 tractors blue sky

Scottish Borders Council has defended its sourcing of food for schools after a local MSP claimed it had spent £31,000 on chicken from Thailand in the last financial year.

Conservative MSP John Lamont also said the council paid £3,296 for potatoes from France.

He said: “It seems incredible that the council is shipping potatoes hundreds of miles from France, when they are grown right here in the Borders.

“Berwickshire in particular produces some of the world’s best potatoes, which is why one of the UK’s largest grower and distributor, Greenvale are based here.

“Scottish Borders Council should be better supporting Borders based businesses by buying local as far as possible.”

Mr Lamont was commenting on figures supplied in response to a freedom of information request.

The council has said that, like all other local authorites in this country, it uses Scotland Excel – the centre of procurement for the local government sector – for the majority of its food sourcing, but also has its own framework of sources for most of its fresh fruit and vegetables.

The amount the council spent on potatoes alone during the last financial year was £25,021 – 87% of which was sourced from the Borders or East Lothian, which includes Greenvale in Berwickshire.

A council spokesperson said: “The majority of our food is sourced through national procurement frameworks through Scotland Excel, including a small amount of vegetable products. That is what these statistics relate to.

“Alongside a small number of other local authorities, SBC has its own framework for sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables, and through that it is regularly supplied with fresh potatoes from Greenvale at Duns, as well as other suppliers in south east Scotland.”

A spokesperson for Scotland Excel said: “All poultry supplied to Scottish schools is of the highest possible standard and meets the required national specification to develop and plan menus that meet nutritional standards. Historically, it has been difficult to meet poultry demand requirements based on the supply within Scotland.

“We have worked hard to source UK produce and, in the last year, we have seen an increase in these products.”

The annual spend on food and beverages at Scottish Borders Council during the last financial year was £1,659,521.