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Green public procurement – demanding diversity


Procurement, support for diversification of production, support for smaller local producers, teaching young generations about biodiversity.


The City of Copenhagen includes demands diversity and seasonality in its procurement of fruits and vegetables. By requesting and buying, for example, apples of different varieties according to season, they manage to support smaller local producers, contribute to diversification in agricultural production and include learning about biodiversity for the children who get to eat the fruit.


The City of Copenhagen is a pioneer when it comes to green procurement and, to name one success, food served in the municipality is today 90% organic. The efforts to procure organic, diverse and seasonal products has not increased the food budget. Achieving this has been made possible by making savings through the use of more vegetables in season and less meat and by reducing waste at all levels.

This initiative, which sets demands for fruit and vegetables based on season and diversity of varieties, helps to preserve the diversity of fruit and vegetable varieties. It thereby also provides incentives for diversity and biodiversity in agriculture. The demand for diversity benefits citizens because it ensures the production of several varieties and thus increases the resilience of our food systems. An indirect effect of the demand on diversity is that more local produce is being procured, as it is often not profitable to have small batches of different kinds of fruit and vegetables transported home from abroad. Instead, suppliers often chose smaller Danish producers as subcontractors.

The demand for diversity and seasonal adaptation has also been brought into the pedagogy. An example is from a preschool where the chef set the goal that the children should learn to recognize at least six different kinds of apples based on how they look, taste and smell. By paying attention to the richness of variety, telling about the importance of diversity for us and the pollinators, the children gain knowledge about sustainable food systems.


Betina Bergmann Madsen, the municipality's procurement officer, says the City of Copenhagen's success in its work in translating the global goals into procurement for public meals rests on at least three important pillars. These are the political support, combined with the procurement officers ongoing market dialogues and collaboration with both kitchen staff and teachers.

The demand for diversity and seasonality comes from a desire within the municipality for citizens to receive food that is grown naturally, and for example to try to avoid vegetables and fruit being grown in energy-intensive greenhouses. At the same time, the requirement does not mean that you limit yourself to what is locally produced in season, but the seasonal criterion refers to the country where the crop is grown. In this way, the procurement does not contravene the EU legislation. The requirement also means that the municipality's kitchen needs to accept that not all ingredients are available all year round.


The municipality's demands are weighted so that 40% is on price, 35% on quality and 25% on diversity. The requirement for diversity means that the tenders are weighted according to how many different varieties the suppliers can offer during the year. The effect is clear when it comes to apples. Before the diversity requirement, the municipality was offered a few varieties of apples, while after the introduction of the requirement, more than 100 different apple varieties were received from the tenderers, where many of the varieties came from small and medium-sized subcontractors.

The tender process in the municipality takes place in a balance between ensuring that the tender meets the kitchen's needs and assessing input from the market. To create good conditions for the tenders and avoid misunderstandings, the municipality starts market dialogues early in the procurement process. The market dialogues are also a tool for maturing the market and informing it of future demands in the making.


Københavns Kommune stiller krav om diversitet og sæsonbestemt frugt og grønt (In Danish)

Offentlige indkøb kan redde 2. sorteringsfrugt og -grønt fra affaldscontaineren (In Danish)

The Power of the Public Plate Podcast Episode 9 - Copenhagen: How Food Can Become a Game Changer, med Betina Bergmann Madsen, anbudsjurist vid Köpenhamns kommun (In English)


MatLust is an EU project with the purpose of strengthening growth and sustainability within the food industry in the Stockholm region. In MatLust’s transnational component we are looking for best practice and good examples in the Baltic Sea region. Areas of interest are sustainable business models for SME in the food sector, innovative applications of public procurement and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and initiatives for more resilient food systems. Good examples are documented and spread via MatLust's website and events.

Maria Micha

Projektledare, Mission Matmiljö, Lokal mat för lokala marknader m.fl. Forskningsrelaterade samarbeten, MatLust Utvecklingsnod
Tel: 08-523 064 40

Uppdaterad: 23 mars 2023
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