Environment secretary Steve Barclay has appointed MP Will Quince as an independent advisor to look at ways to improve the public food procurement sector.

Quince’s review will look into ways to make the system more accessible to SME businesses and farmers, as well as “boosting animal welfare and environmental standards”.

The review also seeks to “promote high standards” for public food and drink catering services, including hospitals and local authorities.

It will also consider opportunities related to the current government buying standard, particularly for education.

Quince will engage with stakeholders across the public sector food and catering supply chain, as well as examining international practices.

“Public bodies spend around £5bn on food every year, so it’s right that we look at opportunities to boost the impact food procurement has on the environment and the local community,” said Quince.

“Whether it’s schools, our armed forces, hospitals, prisons or local councils, I look forward to working with all those involved in the production, buying, cooking, serving and consumption of food in public bodies to identify the ways in which we can deliver on our commitments on climate, nature and health and considering the benefits of, and barriers to, delivering food that is fresh, local and sustainable.”

Before becoming an MP, Quince worked in the food and drink industry. He has held ministerial roles since, working for both the Department for Education and the Department for Health & Social Care.

“Will Quince is ideally placed to lead this work given his wealth of experience in numerous departments, including DHSC and DfE,” said Barclay.

“We will ensure our schools, hospitals and armed forces are using their budgets to support sustainable food produced to the high animal welfare standards we have here in Britain, which are some of the best in the world.”

Earlier this month, the Better Food & Drink contract designed to supply public sector organisations was awarded to procurement partner Entegra.

The public contract has a value of £100m running for a maximum of four years, supplying schools, hospitals and local authority organisations.

Entegra, owned by Sodexo, said it would “work collaboratively with existing partners and suppliers” to deliver the contract, and give better access to SMEs by creating a Buyer Unique Line to facilitate buyer relations with local suppliers.