Organic levels in public canteens unknown

The Department of Agriculture, Teagasc and Bord Bia declined to disclose the percentage of Irish organic food stored in their staff canteens and restaurants.

Despite submitting multiple queries from this publication over the past several weeks, neither the Department nor state agencies have been able to provide a clear answer on this matter.

This comes as the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG-AGRI) has urged member states to promote the creation of ‘organic canteens’ across the civil service to boost production growth organic throughout the block.

It also follows a major government push to significantly expand Ireland’s organic sector of an estimated 2% to 7.5% by 2027.
Asked what percentage of food sold in the Ministry of Agriculture canteen is organic, a DAFM spokesperson replied: “This information is not available”.

A Bord Bia spokesperson said: “Bord Bia has a contract in place with an external supplier to provide catering services for our Bord Bia office canteen and internal events.

“As part of the contract, this supplier observes a responsible sourcing policy which includes ensuring that the majority of food products are sourced from Ireland and that beef, lamb, pork and poultry are of high quality Edge Bia.”

Teagasc did not respond to our questions on this subject.

It comes as the Department of Agriculture announced an extension of the closing date for the organic farming scheme until April 22. status).

Organic beef currently commands a premium of 10-15pc per kilo over conventional beef prices, depending on the latest pricing structures.

According to Good Herdsmen, Ireland’s largest organic beef processor, a base price of €5.55/kg is available this week for Grade R cattle, with the price due to rise to €5.60/kg towards the end. end of the month.

Although the gap is narrowing between organic and conventional (last week factory trade increased another 5-10c/kg to €4.80-4.85/kg for beef and 4, €80-4.90/kg for heifers), organic farmer sources insist that “this is a good price”.

Meanwhile, Elena Panichi, head of organic production at DG-AGRI, told the Teagasc/RDS Growing Organics conference that public service can play an important role in reaching the EU’s 25% organics target. organic land by 2030.

“We consider that if all countries really set up organic public canteens in hospitals, schools, the public sector, etc., there would be a side effect because this consumer who returns home will have an education in purchasing of organic products.

“For this reason, it would be useful for the whole public administration to make better use of green public procurement – ​​the rules are there, but they need to be taken up more in the future.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) in Europe claims that sustainable public procurement can result in up to 80% less production waste and up to 50% less food waste.

IFOAM also says that studies have shown that staff in canteens benefiting from sustainable public contracts “had higher job satisfaction and requested less sick leave”.