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Food Purchasing in Hampshire

This information is updated regularly.

Wholesale Food Distributor

  • Hampshire County Council’s contracted wholesale food distributor is Bidvest based in Downton near Salisbury. Bidvest offers a wide range of dry, chilled and frozen goods which are delivered to our customers, including schools, in multi-temperature vehicles. Bidvest 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 collected by Olleco, a leading bio-energy company, from HC3S (Hampshire County Council Catering Services) catered sites and is converted into Bio Diesel contributing to Hampshire’s CO2 savings.
Good Egg


  • All eggs used in Hampshire schools and other units are free-range, farmed to Laid In Britain standards and predominantly sourced locally from Fordingbridge (the secondary supply is from Sixpenny Handley).
  • Hampshire was the first County Council to receive the Good Egg award from Compassion In World Farming for its efforts.
  • Hampshire’s customers used 900,000 local free-range eggs in 2015.
  • We were instrumental in the producer, CSM UK, 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 is now legislation aimed at enforcing this.


  • Grated Mature Cheddar Cheese is from Wyke Farms based in Somerset and is made from the milk of cows farmed in Southern England. Wyke Farms sources from 68 farms in Somerset, 22 in Dorset, 9 in Wiltshire, and 1 in Devon. Grated Mild Cheddar Cheese is sourced from Lye Cross Farm also based in Somerset with effect from June 2016. All milk used by Lye Cross is from within the Cheddar area.

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 – see

Fruit Juices

  • We source our Apple Juice from a local Alton-based maker who produces a Hampshire Apple Juice drink for schoolchildren in recyclable bottles (and other units in one litre pure juice 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 principally locally sourced from Liss (Blackmoor Estate) and Droxford (Hill Farm) in Hampshire.  The manufacturer is in the process of planting an orchard to become self sufficient in the future.
  • 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

  • Bisto with reduced salt, free from Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and other additives and produced in the UK will be used with effect from November 2016.

Dairy and Morning Goods

  • All kitchen milk comes from southern England, in particular south-west counties and some is from Hampshire dairy farms.

  • In schools Yeo Valley Organic Yoghurts from Somerset are used. The cattle are farmed in Blagdon, Somerset.

  • Flavoured Milk is produced by one of Ireland’s largest farmer owned dairy cooperatives.

  • We use Muller yoghurts in many other establishments which are made in Shropshire.  All the milk used is from Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

  • Margarine certified for use by vegans is widely used across all menus and is made in Yorkshire from Palm Oil which is Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil mass balanced which is permitted to claim that it ‘contributed to the production of certified sustainable palm oil’.

  • We promote the use of UK frozen bread where required, mainly using UK flour.

  • All Artisan bakers and cake producers are local.

  • We purchase ice cream from the New Forest. UK sourced ingredients are used wherever possible.


  • Diced Beef is from English counties farmed cattle and is Red Tractor certified.
  • Red Tractor Minced Beef comes mainly from Yorkshire.
  • Sliced Beef is farmed to Red Tractor standard. The cattle are
  • sourced principally from Home Counties but also including
  • Hampshire.
  • With effect from April 2016 we introduced a Beef Meatball and the Red Tractor certified meat will come from animals farmed in the west and south-west, some of which  will be from Hampshire.
  • Red Tractor Chicken Breast Fillets are sourced in the UK from UK reared meat principally from Derbyshire. Cooked Diced Chicken is also from British Red Tractor farmed poultry and prepared in a Grade A BRC factory. The meat is mostly from Norfolk.
  • HC3S received a Good Farm Animal Welfare Award for its commitment to use higher welfare farmed chicken.
  • UK Chicken Goujons with a wheat and gluten free coating, developed specifically for HC3S, have been used since April 2016.  The meat is from south-west England farmed birds.
  • Cooked Diced UK Turkey Chunks come from Bernard Matthews farms in Norfolk.
  • Sliced Turkey to be used for school Christmas dinners in 2016 is Red Tractor and from Norfolk
  • 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.


  • In 2014 Hampshire was awarded the Compassion in World Farming Good Pig Award.
  • The awards programme works by recognising and rewarding various sectors for working in a sustainable and responsible way. The main criteria for this award is addressing the issues of confinement and the need for environmental enrichment (i.e. straw or other fibrous material for foraging and comfort) in breeding sows, and mutilations (i.e.) tail docking, castration and tooth clipping).
  • All of the meat sourced is Freedom Foods (RSPCA monitored) which ensures the following:
    - Freedom from hunger and thirst
    - Freedom from discomfort
    - Freedom from pain, injury or disease
    - Freedom to express normal behaviour
    - Freedom from fear and distress
  • This ensures that the Pigs have a quality of life, their mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and natural living conditions are all of the highest standards resulting in fit and happy animals.
  • Pork Loin Slices are sourced in the UK from UK reared RSPCA-approved Pork. Although various sources are used there is full traceability.
  • Sausages are made using English sourced RSPCA-approved Pork, made to a BPEX Gold Award winning Southern Pride recipe.  In 2015, almost 2.3 million sausages were used in school meals.
  • Our back bacon and sliced ham is now also made from RSPCA-approved Pork and like our standard pork chipolata sausages some of the meat is from Wiltshire and West Sussex. Our supplier is endeavouring to develop this local supply chain.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Local fruit and vegetables are plentiful and are extensively used when in season and that includes apples and pears, peppers, squash, sweet corn, courgettes, beans, onions, asparagus, rhubarb, cabbages, cauliflowers, spring greens, leeks, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, lettuce, soft fruit, potatoes and watercress.
  • Some bananas are Fairtrade when available.
  • Most Frozen Potato products are sourced from McCain Foods who is a leading member of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme which promotes sustainable, environmentally responsible farming in the UK and McCain is the single biggest UK purchaser of British Potatoes.
  • In November 2015 we have procured a Pre-Cooked Jacket Potato suitable for busy primary school kitchen use.  The potatoes used are grown in Yorkshire.

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.
  • Our Bean & Vegetable Bake is wheat and gluten free and ‘Free From’ and is manufactured in Amesbury.
  • Vegetarian Sausages and Toad in the Hole are manufactured in Ringwood, Hants.
  • Quorn is sourced from Yorkshire.

Other Products

  • 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 and 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.
  • Yorkshire Puddings are produced in the UK (Hull) from UK wheat flour and other mainly UK ingredients.
  • Our entire range of fully-finished Pasta Sauces are manufactured in Newton Abbot, Devon.


  • Fish and fish products are from sustainable fish sources.
  • Our fish fingers are manufactured with a wheat and gluten free coating (made from rice and maize flour) and are ‘free from’ allowing them to be given to coeliacs and to meet other special dietary needs.
  • Our fresh sea fish supplier is based in Portsmouth and has its own boat operating throughout the summer specialising in line caught fish from the banks off Selsey Bill and the Isle of Wight.
  • We also have a specialist supplier of locally-farmed rainbow trout and crayfish.

Granulated Sugar

Granulated Sugar used by HC3S 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, government agencies, the media and the public to heighten awareness and consumption of Hampshire’s quality produce and support the rural economy in Hampshire.



Holds the LACA (Lead Association for Catering in Education) Business of the Year Award 2015 and is shortlisted for the Educatering Excellence Awards and FreeFrom Food Awards 2016. In 2014, was the inaugural Free-from Eating Out In Education (Schools, Colleges & Universities) award winner.

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 was 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 The Institute of Food Safety Integrity & Protection (TIFSIP) 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 was 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 one of their National conferences.

HC3S (Hampshire County Council Catering Services) has previously won the Healthy Schools Caterer Competition and been voted Cost Sector Educational Caterer of the Year.     

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 Byles – Principal Buyer (Food)

Tel: (01962) 826920


John Foskett – Food Development (Brokerage) HC3S

Tel: (02380) 627728