Procurement of Food Supplies

Food Supplies include consumable commodities, such as

  • mixed foods,
  • ready-to-use foods,
  • fortified foods with added vitamins and minerals,
  • supplementary foods to address moderate malnutrition.

They do not include seeds for agricultural purposes.

When procuring food supplies, the Partners shall:

  • ensure that they comply with any quality standards laid down in the domestic legislation of the country of origin and/or the country of destination, whichever has the higher quality standard;
  • ensure that they match the nutritional habits of the beneficiary population as much as possible.

The costs of food supplies, which fail to comply with the above-mentioned obligations will not be considered as eligible.

Whenever possible and advisable, having due regard to the context in which the Action is implemented, and provided it does not substantially disturb the local beneficiary markets, priority shall be given to purchases in the country of operation or in neighbouring countries. Partners shall obtain evidence based on local/regional market analysis that local/regional procurement would not induce market distortions, which could adversely affect vulnerable populations (see also the principle of supporting local economy).

How to ensure quantity and quality of food supplies

The Partners are responsible for ensuring the quantity and quality of the supplies, including their packaging and marking, following the rules below:

Value of the contract NOT exceeding EUR 300,000: Humanitarian Organisation may itself certify the quantity and quality of the supplies, by means of a suitably qualified member of staff.
Value of the contract exceeding EUR 300,000: The Humanitarian Organisation shall engage a Monitoring Agency, which shall assume responsibility for verifying and certifying the quantity and quality of the supplies.

Role of the Monitoring Agency

A Monitoring Agency includes any internationally recognised inspection company, preferably accredited to the standard norm ISO 45004 – ISO/IEC 17020 in the food production sector.

The Monitoring Agency will verify and certify the quality, quantity, packing and marking of supplies. Normally the monitoring agency is contracted before the award of the food supply contract. As soon as the food supply contract has been awarded, the monitoring agency shall carry out its checks in line with the applicable international monitoring standards with the chosen supplier. This would entail at least:

  • A check on quality before loading and a check on quantity when the goods are loaded. As a result of this check, the monitoring agency issues a provisional certificate of conformity to the supplier and only after that, the transport can start.
  • A comprehensive check at the place of delivery, where the warehouses of the partner can be considered as the final place of delivery. After that, the monitoring agency needs to issue a final certificate of conformity to the supplier and it needs to notify the partners thereof.

Procurement of Fresh Food

When the contract is divided into several lots taking into account the seasonal availability of products, each lot shall be considered individually in order to establish the applicable threshold.

How to prove compliance with special provision for food supplies during audits?

ECHO expects partners to demonstrate their compliance with internationally accepted product standards via such evidence as reports, audits, studies, statements by suppliers etc. The partners can also attach in the procurement file pictures and/or monitoring reports from the field distribution.


The Annex III is mandatory in all cases as far as quality of food and medical supplies is concerned, regardless of ECHO contribution and regardless of the value of the procurement contract.
Thus, where the partner, for circumstances beyond its control, is unable to demonstrate compliance with internationally accepted product standards, it must follow these procedures

References & useful links