Organic Agriculture

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 111–124 | Cite as

Organic food in food policy and in public catering: lessons learned from Finland

  • Helmi Risku-Norja
  • Anne-Kristin Løes


The strategic goal of the Finnish food policy is to develop agriculture and food production as a sector of strong expansion. Since 2010, the role of organic food is specifically stressed in strivings to improve the competitiveness of the Finnish food sector.

Recognising the significance of the statutory public catering in Finland, the focus here is the organic food in the context of public catering. The article examines the discourse articulated in food policy documents, the use of organic food within municipal food services and the materialised efforts to increase its use. Finnish experiences are discussed by considering the competitive tendering process constrained by regulations on public procurement and the role of the public catering services for the SMEs in the heavily competitive food markets. The aim is to improve actors’ knowledge regarding the possibilities of the institutional consumers to increase the use of organic food. Despite the good intentions articulated in the policy documents, expanding the use of organic food in institutional kitchens is a slow process. It requires that the bottlenecks are identified and opened in the real-life context. Increased organic consumption in public catering is primarily a political decision. Its adoption requires determined will, and the local policymakers are in a key position to decide, whether organic food should be favoured. This requires strategic decisions and a strong commitment to long-term development work. The options for including and/or increasing organic food in public catering should be considered when formulating comprehensive municipal development strategies. It is important to pay attention to the research results, to involve practical actors and to appreciate the caterers’ expertise as well as the customers’ experiences regarding the various quality aspects. Municipal customers are important for the SME:s, who often have difficulties to get foothold in the heavily competitive food markets. Long-term contracts provide secure income and the entrepreneurs can then better concentrate on developing their core business. To establish the customership, both the entrepreneurs and the municipal purchasers need thorough knowledge on the purchasing procedure.


Organic food Food policy goals Institutional kitchens Public procurement Most economically advantageous tender (MEAT) SMEs 



The authors acknowledge the financial support for the HealthyGrowth project provided by transnational funding bodies, being partners of the FP7 ERA-net project, CORE Organic II.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources FinlandJokioinenFinland
  2. 2.Norwegian Centre for Organic AgricultureTingvollNorway

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