NHS contracts

Farmers are being given the opportunity to secure lucrative contracts with the NHS to supply it with food for hospitals.

The two-year contracts, worth £48m in total, are for supplies of meat, poultry, bread, breakfast foods, milk and cream.

Sarah Bailey of the NHS said: "We are looking for regional suppliers, and actively encourage small to medium-sized businesses."

Andy Berry, public procurement manager for South West Food and Drink said: "This is an excellent opportunity for food and drink suppliers to diversify into a new and lucrative market.

"This also helps reduce food miles and injects cash into the local economy. The public sector is a good payer and the contract will be secure for at least two years."

The contract will run from February 2007 until January 2009, with an option to extend it for two more years.

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