The Buy British, Boost Britain initiative is calling on the foodservice industry to pledge to source at least 25% of its food from British-based producers.
In a bid to help catering and hospitality businesses buy local produce, the initiative is teaming up with organisations such as Red Tractor to offer free independent advice, support and guidance on creating a solid UK sourcing policy.
It is also encouraging catering businesses that are already sourcing British to step up and share best practice with the rest of the industry.
Charles Miers, managing director of Footprint, said: “This initiative could really help bolster Britain as it attempts to recover from the economic downturn.
“By sourcing a minimum of 25% of food from UK farmers and growers, businesses will be pumping millions into the local economy, ultimately creating new employment opportunities and helping many growers to expand.”
In a bid to boost British food supplies, the initiative will also be encouraging food producers with the ability to increase yield outputs to get in touch, and will call for investment and incentives from the government to boost UK production.
“There is no point in asking anyone to buy British if we aren’t also helping UK producers increase output,” said Miers.
The launch of the Buy British, Boost Britain initiative by Footprint- which works with foodservice businesses to develop corporate social responsibility plans – follows environment secretary Owen Paterson's call to buy more British food.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference last month, Paterson questioned why 24 per cent of the food eaten in the UK is imported when it could be produced on home soil.
“We have a top-class fruit and veg sector which produces everything from green beans to strawberries, yet we imported £8 billion of fruit and veg in 2012,” he said.
“We can’t grow mangoes or pineapples, but we can encourage UK consumers and food businesses to buy Scottish raspberries or Kent apples.”
Paterson said the public sector, which bought £2.1 billion worth of food and drink last year, should set an example by buying more British food.
A survey conducted at the end of last year revealed that provenance is increasingly important for British consumers, who are looking for quality assurance marks like the Red Tractor label.
Restaurateurs tapping into this trend include Mark Harris, who will open a British all-day dining restaurant in West End this Spring.
However, not all chefs believe British is best. Last month Italian chefs Antonio Mellino said he would source all of the ingredients for his new Quattro Passi London venture from his Amalfi coast suppliers, while Johnny Micalusi said he would buy import fresh fish and seafood daily from Rome’s Terracina market for his new Assunta Madre restaurant in Mayfair. Both said the finest quality Italian ingredients were essential to bringing their authentic Italian food to the UK.