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Food Purchasing in Hampshire

This information is regularly updated

Wholesale Food Distributor

  • Hampshire County Council’s contracted wholesale food distributor is 3663 which is based in Downton near Salisbury. 3663 offers a wide range of dry, chilled and frozen goods which are delivered to our customers, including schools, in multi-temperature vehicles. 3663 also offers a backhaul service, which means they collect local foodstuffs when returning to Salisbury with empty vehicles, all of which helps increase efficiency and reduces food miles.
  • Waste cooking oil is now collected by Convert2Green, a leading bio-energy company, from HC3S-catered sites and is converted into Bio Diesel contributing to Hampshire’s CO2 savings.


  • Since 2008 all eggs used in Hampshire schools and other units are free-range, farmed to Laid In Britain standards and predominantly sourced locally from Fordingbridge. In April 2009 Hampshire was the first county council to receive an award from Compassion In World Farming for its efforts. In 2012 Hampshire’s customers used 840,000 local free-range eggs.
  • 3663 source their own free-range eggs from various suppliers, all UK certified.
  • We were instrumental in the producer, Bakemark, introducing free-range eggs to their cost sector specific catering mixes.
  • Our policy is to encourage all manufacturers using eggs as an ingredient to move to free-range as soon as possible, although there there is now legislation aimed at enforcing this.


Grated and Block Cheddar Cheese is principally from Taw Valley, Devon and is made from the milk of cows farmed in Southern England, including Hampshire.


  • Fish and fish products are from sustainable fish sources. In June 2009 Hampshire was one of only two councils invited to the MSC ten-year celebratory event hosted at Clarence House by HRH, the Prince of Wales.
  • Our fish fingers and fish cakes are manufactured with a wheat and gluten free coating (made from rice and maize flour) allowing them to be given to coeliacs.

Coffee and Tea

  • The majority of coffee used is from Kraft (Kenco and Maxwell House) and is Rain Forest Alliance (RFA) certified. Tea is from Tetley and is also supported by the RFA. Fairtrade tea and fairly traded coffee are offered for all meetings in the Winchester HQ Castle complex and are sold in the staff restaurant.
  • The specialist coffee mainly available in our commercial outlets is from sustainable sources and some of it is RFA Certified. All blend development takes place in Southampton for the blends used by our caterers and it is intended that roasting will also take place in Southampton by the end of 2015-16. The specialist coffee producers contribute to the Community2Community Fund

Fruit Juices

  • Apples growing on a tree We source our Apple Juice from a local Alton-based maker who produces Hampshire Apple Juice for schoolchildren in recyclable bottles (and other units in one litre packs for pouring). This potentially has the further attraction that children experience the taste of different apple juices as the year progresses – contributing to their understanding of seasonal growing. The fruit used is also locally sourced from Liss in Hampshire.
  • A range of Welsh-made natural mineral water based drinks are widely used in schools and the various fruit ingredients are from sustainable EU sources, with the exception of oranges which are from Brazil.

Gravy Powder

Gravy powder and crystals are made to our specification in Birmingham with reduced salt and are free from Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and other additives.

Dairy and Morning Goods

  • A proportion of the milk used comes from Hampshire dairy farmers, the balance coming from West Sussex, Somerset and Wiltshire. All bottling takes place in Southampton. Third pints are now provided in recyclable bottles.
  • In schools Yeo Valley Organic Yoghurts from Somerset are used since November 2012. The cattle are farmed in Blagdon, Somerset.
  • We use Müller yoghurts which are made in Shropshire in many other establishments. All the milk used is from Shropshire or the surrounding area.
  • Flavoured Milk is produced in Northern Ireland.
  • We promote the use of UK frozen bread where required, mainly using UK flour.
  • All bakers are local.
  • We purchase ice cream from the New Forest using UK sourced ingredients wherever possible.


  • Pig In May 2011 Beef Meatballs made from animals farmed in Overton were added to the menus in Hampshire schools. This has been followed by the development of a purely British Beefburger using mainly meat from Laverstoke Park used on school meal and commercial menus as and when required.
  • Red Tractor Chicken Breast Fillets and Pork Loin Slices are both made in the UK from UK reared meat. Cooked Diced Chicken is also from British Red Tractor farmed poultry and prepared in a Grade A BRC factory.
  • Sausages using some Hampshire pork were introduced in February 2010. These are made to a BPEX Gold Award winning Southern Pride recipe. All pork used in this product is from south coast farm sources. In 2012, almost 2,000,000 sausages were used.
  • Lamb Meatballs, Minced Beef, Sliced Beef (Scottish Farm Assured) are all sourced from the UK.
  • UK Chicken Meat Grills, developed specifically for Hampshire County Council Catering Service (HC3S) with a wheat and gluten free coating, were introduced to our menus in December 2010 (the meat is from Norfolk farmed birds). This product was Highly Commended in the 2011 Freefrom Food Awards.
  • Cooked Diced UK Turkey Chunks, from Bernard Matthews farms in Norfolk was introduced from 1 January 2011 and Sliced Turkey used for school Christmas dinners in 2012 came from the same source. It will be used again 2013.
  • For other non-schools sites, the main fresh meat butcher is Portsmouth-based and offers a fully traceable range that includes a ‘Southern Pride’ list sourced from Southern England and the butcher has EBLEX accreditation.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Local fruit and vegetables are used when in season and that includes apples, cabbages, cauliflowers, spring greens, leeks, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, lettuce, soft fruit, potatoes and watercress. Some bananas are Fairtrade when available.
  • Frozen Potato products are sourced from various producers; all are UK based.

Bottled Water

All bottled water is from various UK producers. However, for sustainability reasons, we are encouraging users to convert to plumbed-in machines.


  • Cheese & Vegetable Bakes are made from ingredients sourced in the UK.
  • We have been able to introduce a Bean & Vegetable Bake from May 2011. This new product is wheat and gluten free and is made in Amesbury.
  • Vegetarian Sausages and Toad in the Hole are produced in Ringwood, Hants.
  • Quorn is sourced from Yorkshire.
  • Pizza Bases and Tasca Pockets are made in Midhurst, West Sussex using some local ingredients.  Panizzas are also made in Midhurst from good English strains of wheat with a little higher protein EU product. Panizzas also contain English grown Rapeseed oil.
  • Scotch, American Pancakes and Blinis are made from UK wheat flour, liquid egg and sugar and manufactured in Leeds.
  • Puff Pastry Squares are manufactured in the UK from EU grown wheat, rapeseed oil (some of which is from the UK), margarine (also manufactured in the UK) and salt produced in the UK. Palm Oil is Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil mass balanced which is permitted to claim that it ‘contributed to the production of certified sustainable palm oil’.
  • Yorkshire Puddings are produced in the UK (Hull) from UK wheat flour and other mainly UK ingredients.
  • Margarine certified for use by vegans is widely used across all menus and it is made from sustainable palm oil (Green Palm Sustainability) in the UK.
  • Our entire range of fully-finished Pasta Sauces are made in Newton Abbot, Devon.

Caster Sugar

With effect from July 2010 the Caster Sugar used is Fairtrade.


Hampshire Fare

The Council is also a strong supporter of Hampshire Fare, the County food group which works with producers and farmers in Hampshire as well as shops, restaurants, schools, hospitals, government agencies, the media and the public to heighten awareness and consumption of Hampshire’s quality produce, and is also a very strong supporter of the South East England Food Group Partnership.



In addition to being the only authority to have its school meal menus accredited by the Hyperactive Children's Support Group (for having seventy additives removed from manufactured products), Hampshire is also the first county to be given a Compassion In World Farming award and, a plaque from the Campaign to Protect Rural England for its food sourcing achievements. Hampshire has also been the subject of food case studies published by the Institute of Grocery & Distribution, the Prince's Charities, the Commission for Rural Communities and Food Vision and has been positively mentioned at the Seafish Seafood Awards. The National Audit Office has previously commented on the level of "good practice". Hampshire was commissioned by DEFRA to produce a DVD which has been distributed countrywide promoting the Rural Pathfinder Public Sector Procurement of Local Food Project, and the development of the local Apple Juice mentioned above, was the subject of a video made by the Federation of Small Businesses and shown at their 2009 national conference.

  • In March 2011, HC3S (Hampshire County Council Catering Services) won the Healthy Schools Caterer Competition and in April 2011 HC3S was voted Cost Sector Educational Caterer of the Year.
  • In November 2011, HC3S received a Good Farm Animal Welfare Award for its commitment to use higher welfare farmed chicken.

In conclusion

Wherever the opportunity exists to support the UK economy our distributors work closely with us to achieve such an end whilst meeting legal requirements.

Many other local and national suppliers have sought our guidance as to how they should best approach the local government school meals market. However, Hampshire always states that offering locally, regionally or UK sourced products offer so many benefits, but costs must be realistic and quality should remain in line with what is available elsewhere in the EU.


Further information

For further information, please contact:

Nigel Lacey – Purchasing Manager

Tel: (01962) 826912


Angela Kearns – Buyer (Food)

Tel: (01962) 826920