A Catering Mark Supplier Scheme has been launched by the Soil Association Certification, the organisation which runs the Catering Mark accreditation standards.
The Food for Life Catering Mark aims to be a symbol of assurance on the issues that consumers care about in the food they eat: health, animal welfare and care for the environment.
More than 600,000 Catering Mark meals are now served every day in schools, hospitals, universities, nurseries and staff restaurants in the UK.
The Catering Mark is provided by some of the country's biggest contract caterers, including Harrison Catering, ISS Education, Caterlink, Sodexo and Taylor Shaw.
Suppliers who are members of the scheme will deliver products that can satisfy a variety of accreditations required at the bronze, silver and gold levels of the Catering Mark. These include products which are, for example, Red Tractor, Freedom Food, MSC, non-GM, and free from additives.
Suppliers who join will enter a market worth more than £200m, which already includes companies such as Acorn Dairy, Oakfield Farm Products, Pukka Herbs, Essence of Eden and The Baker Boys.
Mark Davies, director of ISS Education, said: "The Catering Mark Supplier Scheme is a great opportunity for bringing caterers and suppliers closer together.
"As caterers develop their commitment to Food for Life Catering Mark standards, we rely heavily on our suppliers for support. This scheme enables suppliers to understand the Food for Life approach and help them organise themselves for the questions caterers will have. As a caterer, working with suppliers who are experts in, and are prepared for, the requirements of the Catering Mark could be a competitive advantage for those businesses."
Cathy Rouse, head of sales at supplier NCB, said: "We are very proud to be part of this Soil Association scheme. Food safety, provenance and sourcing great products from local suppliers have been our proposition for the past 18 years. By working together with the Soil Association, our growers and producers we can hopefully ensure the longevity and wellbeing of our farming communities, while striving to meet our responsibilities as custodians of our planet."
For more information visit www.sacert.org/supplierscheme.
By Lisa Jenkins
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