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No Press Passes for Haverfoodfest

08 May

Over the last two years we have attended the Haverfoodfest. We’ve simply rocked up, presented our business cards, explained who we were and we’d no hassle getting in. We always saw a few of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers and last year had a chat with visiting politicians including MP Steve Crabb.

For some reason this year though, after checking out their website, I used their email link which was directed to ‘admin’ and asked for 2 press tickets and a car pass. On 4th May I got notice of my email being re-directed to Lise – saying ‘think this is for you’. I’ve no idea who Lise is, or her role, but from my side it does help if there is a press contact on festival websites. Now with hindsight it seems press is not welcomed at Haverfoodfest, or maybe that’s perhaps Lise doesn’t want Welsh Country magazine to attend. I didn’t get a response, despite chasing again on 5th.

I’d actually only emailed to do my job properly, but as no hassle last year, I didn’t expect it this year, but how wrong I was. After a 90 minutes drive we got to Haverfordwest on the Saturday morning about 11.00. The event opened at 10.00 and when we drove in there were visitors going in in the bright, sunny weather. There were oodles of people milling around, all wearing the obligatory yellow vests. Ian talked to the guys on the gate and they decided they couldn’t let us in, so we were told to wait and shortly a lady called Carol came across. She said she’d replied to my email and was surprised I’d not get it, deciding it must ‘have got lost’. Well of course it must have. I explained that I was hardly going to undertake a 3 hour round trip to visit if I’d been told by email I couldn’t have press tickets. Her comment was puzzling  to me as she’d sent my initial email onto Lise and surely that meant Lise should have replied to me, doesn’t it? I thought that was strange and in my view very unprofessional, unhelpful and unwelcoming. Carol then said she’d been told ‘they’ weren’t doing anything with magazines. Again another puzzle. Not at all clear as to what that meant as Ian had been told ‘they’ weren’t going to advertise with Welsh Country magazine, but were going with a Pembrokeshire ‘magazine’ title. That’s fair enough, ‘they’ didn’t advertise with us in the previous year, so we were not going to miss something we never had!

Carol told us it we wished to attend of course we could and as it was only £3.00 each to enter, which she thought was reasonable. I didn’t think press having to pay was reasonable, so we turned around and left. We attend a huge number of events every year to work and the cost would be well in excess of £1000.00 just in entrance fees each year.  Discounting Abergavenny, this is the first time in thirteen years that Welsh Country magazine has not been allowed press tickets for an event. I’m still unsure why press, or more specifically Welsh Country magazine, was not welcomed, but there we are.

I can only hope that the food & drink producers that attended did well and the purchases I’d have made weren’t missed. Never mind, I can go to St Dogmaels’ produce market tomorrow and play local food catch-up, knowing that the selection of producers there will be a good as ever and we’ll be welcomed too!

I always look for a positive in each post, it’s not always easy, when I’m discussing Welsh food and drink, but this time it is for me as I shall not have to attend this event again.

 
 

Food Festival Funding for 2017

27 Apr

Food festival funding in Wales, now let me start this post with some good news – wag food sent this to Ian today with words that we can circulate it to anyone with an interest in Welsh Food & Drink. Well that’s a good start and although for me 7 months too late to get this information – this is progress with wag food talking to us. We’ll be sending it out tonight to all our Best Of Welsh & Border producers and anyone else who has been asking/pestering us for this news! I haven’t posted the application form, but if anyone wants it, just email me and I’ll zap it over, but here’s, in full, the application guidelines:

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

Grant Scheme Application Guidelines

Before completing the application for funding form please read through guidelines below:

  1. Scheme Aims.

1.1 The evolution of food events has seen beneficial development in many directions including the creation of market development opportunities for producers beyond the festival circuit, consumer health and education initiatives, and a variety of added value to the local economy.

1.2 The aims of the Strategic Business Growth Grant scheme will be to:

  • Increase the opportunity for new and existing micro and small businesses to test trade, developing marketing/sales skills and local sales opportunities.
  • Increase local engagement in skills/healthy eating.
  • Develop sustainable local food opportunities in line with the Food Tourism Action Plan for Wales.
  • Provide a clear opportunity for locally/regionally sourced Welsh food and drink to be available.
  • Develop community links and partner organisational engagement.
  • Encourage Local Food Tourism development.

1.3 Applications will need to demonstrate that the funding will provide evident advantage to the Welsh food and drink industry, as well as incorporate defined objectives of the Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014-2020.

1.4 Only activities that will clearly add value to the food and drink industry in Wales will be supported. Further guidance on criteria and examples of eligible activity are issued below.

  1. Who can apply?

2.1 The scheme will be open to food festivals and markets, including one off and annual events which have a defined Welsh Food and Drink offer with the activity happening within Wales.

  1. a) Representative of producers and/or Tourism organisation who have a membership of Welsh Food and/or Drink businesses.
  2. b) Not for profit agencies or voluntary associations.

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

  1. c) Joint applications from Food/Tourism groups and business agencies.
  2. d) Individuals applying for activity/ies that will promote and benefit the wider food and tourism industry.

2.2 If an application is proposing a new event/activity, organisational structure and current/future plans must be provided, underlining capacity and ability to deliver.

2.3 The scheme is discretionary and every application is judged on its own merits and the quality of the information provided.

  1. Funding Available

The Strategic Business Growth grant scheme has a budget of £100,000, with a maximum budget of up to £5,000 available per application, funded at up to 100% of the costs.

All Festivals and events should demonstrate their commitment to longer term financial security, therefore funding support will be limited to a maximum of 3 years per festival/ event, subject to annual application and budget availability.

  1. Scheme Criteria

4.1 Applications will need to demonstrate how event proposals will address one or more of the following strategic aims:

  • Providing a trading platform for new Welsh food and drink businesses that have been trading for less than 2 years.
  • Educating consumers about Welsh food and drink.
  • Promoting healthy eating.

4.2 Proposed events must have a presence of at least 25 Welsh food and drink exhibitors and minimum footfall of 2,500 visitors.

4.3 The whole cost of the event must be shown in the application form, however the following elements will be eligible for funding:

  • Cookery demonstrations – promoting local/Welsh produce and healthy eating
  • Marketing/advertising materials.
  • Subsidised or discounted stand / marquee costs for new producers (trading for less than 2 years) – maximum 5 pitches.
  • Other reasonable revenue costs (non-statutory) that are required for the proposed activity to be delivered.

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

4.4 Collaborative or joint bids are encouraged, as well as innovative and new activities. Collaborative bids, of two or more events/applicants, will be capped at £10,000.

4.5 This tier will be operated via a streamlined application process. Statutory accounts will be required for established events as well as any relevant policies, Welsh Language provision and Waste Management plans. New events will be required to supply a 12-month financial projection for the year when you will spend the grant. Please include the amount you are requesting from this grant scheme in your projection.

4.6 Any written materials (including signage and information published online), must be provided in Welsh and English, unless it would be unreasonable or disproportionate to do so. Guidance about providing services and written materials in Welsh can be obtained from the Welsh Language Commissioner by visiting www.comisiynyddygymraeg.org

  1. Scoring Criteria

5.1 The following criteria will be used when assessing ALL applicants:

  • Fit with scheme aims

Applicants are expected to demonstrate that the event will fit the aims of the Strategic Business Grant Scheme, as listed in section 1.2 above.

  • Meet with strategic aims

Applicants are expected to demonstrate that the event will address one or more of the Strategic Business Grant Scheme strategic aims, as listed in section 4.1 above.

  • Value for money

Applications are expected to demonstrate that the proposal is good value for money. Further information is noted in section 7 below.

  • Innovation

An economically vibrant and forward thinking industry must be innovative to capture markets and move forwards. Applications need to demonstrate a level of innovation, as noted in section 4.4 above.

  • Defined clear outputs and objectives

Applicants need to demonstrate the funding will provide evident advantage to the food and drink industry in Wales. Event outputs and objectives are an efficient way of measuring its success.

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

  • Capacity and ability to deliver.

 Applicants must demonstrate the capacity and the ability to deliver. New applicants must provide evidence, as noted in section 2.2 above. Financial statements from existing events will also be taken into consideration.

  • Collaborative delivery

Collaborations or partnerships with one or more applicants could improve project efficiency, the use of funds and the better delivery of activities to beneficiaries. Collaborative delivery is encouraged and noted in section 4.4 above.

6. Timescales Date
27th April 2017 Strategic Business Growth grant scheme launch
27th April 2017 First grant scheme application window opens
18th May 2017 First grant scheme application window closes
9th June 2017 All successful applicants to receive written confirmation
1st June 2017 Second grant scheme application window opens
1st July 2017 Second grant scheme application window closes
1st August 2017 All successful applicants to receive written confirmation
1st March 2018 All claims to be received no later than this date

Well I hope you find this of interest and it does show you as producers the paperwork our organisers have to complete, the boxes they have to tick and all this for £5k maximum. What has horrified me is that this year’s budget is just £100k and I look back just to 2008 when the budget was £376,786.99 when 43 festivals were funded when the ‘big boys’, Cardiff, Abergavenny and Mold had roughly £30k each and Conwy at £16k. I am seriously struggling with only £100k for 2017 when the government have set their stake high to achieve 30%??? growth through their Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014-2020. If food and drink is so important to Wales, to our food and drink producers and our visitors why is this budget constantly being cut? Not sure what I’m missing here, but I’m obviously missing something………………….

Those festivals running early I’m told, their applications will be fast tracked.Well that’s something but in my opinion, still not good enough.

I’m concerned too about 2,500 visitors, wag food require. How can those festivals running in towns, do a visitor count that is worth wag box ticking? That to me is ridiculous and I’ve forgotten how many festival press releases have been sent to me claiming they’ve had 10,000 people through a one day festival that is held in a town that not only hasn’t got car parking for 1,000 cars it doesn’t run a park & ride either! Another concern is that wag insist on 25 Welsh food and drink stands which on the face of it sounds fine but not if the festival has 200 stands there! I get very cross with wag food putting forward their criteria when I can’t see how much of it will work or be of benefit. Festival funding is usually evaluated, but I just hope it is evaluated by a Quango with a common sense attitude, but please don’t ask me to name one, as I think I’d struggle – but unless it is done in that manner it will be no help to our organisers or wag food. So my view is that these are often pointless, a waste of time and money. Our festivals have had so many evaluations done and I for one can’t see them being very beneficial.

 

 
 

Food Festival Conference / Funding Update

16 Mar

Please don’t chase me for an update on wag’s food festival conference / get together which was to be held yesterday. I’ve been told, by someone was attending that is was postponed and will be held at a future date. I do apologise for not posting earlier but swamped with work at the moment and couldn’t rate this as a priority – sorry.

For those of you that are also a little behind, follows is my post that was posted on 1st March:

I’m still getting calls and emails asking about this year’s and I so wish people would either read welshfoodbites or ring the Welsh Government Food Department themselves. So at the risk of sounding very much like a stuck record – I do NOT know anything about wag food’s plans on food festival funding for this year and as I keep saying, if I did I’d tell our Best Of Welsh & Borders food producers by email and then post on welshfoodbites.

I have however been sent, not by wag food, but by two Welsh Country magazine supporters, details of a wag food meeting or conference, titled Food Festivals – Building on success – to be held in two weeks time.

I note from the draft outline of the day an item headed, ‘New Funding Scheme For 2017, which will cover, Management, Criteria, Guidelines, Timescales, Next Steps and a Q & A’. So I’m assuming the food festival organisers will then know where they stand for 2017. All I can say is it’s better late than never! I’m looking forward to a festival organiser giving me an update after this meeting as I certainly cannot rely on wag food telling me what’s happening, or if a press release is sent out whether I’ll get sent one.

Please excuse my further confusion at another item titled ‘Food Festival Co-Operation Project’ I’ve no idea what on earth this might be about, or how might work and I can hardly wait to find out – no really I can’t!!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been worried, concerned, annoyed, frustrated, cross, angry, gosh I could go on for ever. But the point is markets and food festivals are the life blood of many Welsh food and drink producers. They need to know early which festivals are running which of course in many instances is related in part to government funding. But year after years we are left waiting to find out what is happening, all because wag food cannot communicate to producers or the media. It seems in wag’s mind it’s not important that producers AND organisers know what is happening and as that seems to be the case, I might as well give up. There is nothing more frustrating than talking to, or at, ‘someone’ who is unable or unwilling to listen……………..

 
 

Invite To The World Angus Forum

10 Mar

I’ve been invited as media to the The Angus World Forum 2017 which is being held in Scotland this June to celebrate the Aberdeen-Angus breed in its homeland for the first time in 40 years. So hoping this post and invite might well amuse you as it did me. Yes it is a food related invitation from Scotland no less!

I’m told that a press briefing is being held at the land Pavilion at the Royal Highland Showground, Edinburgh, at 11am on Friday 17th March and I must say that if I’d time I’d love to attend, Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. Now I’m not happy to say this, but I’m being forced to behave as a grown-up, well on this occasion anyway and will now have to go back to these lovely people and say thanks for their kind invitation, but I cannot escape Wales to attend their press briefing.

The Angus World Forum are just shy of three and a half months to go until enthusiasts of the Aberdeen-Angus breed descend on the UK, they will be visiting from Ireland and of course from around the world, but the organising committee want the media’s help to generate a buzz and publicise this event. All I can say on that is I am pleased that Scotland has a different take on the media, wanting to work with them, which is what I’m constantly saying Wales should be doing. The media do have their uses and it is in my view, silly to ignore them. So with nearly 4 months to get the word around, I’m hopeful that this event will work well for them.

The Aberdeen-Angus defines Scotland as the Welsh Black defines Wales. I’ve no idea if the Welsh Black Society run a similar event, but perhaps that’s something I’ve just not been told about.

My amusement comes from getting an invite from the Scottish food and drink people! Now where do I live and work? Wales. What does Welsh Country magazine focus many of its pages on? Welsh food and drink ………………………

 

 

 

 
 

Food Festival Conference / Funding

01 Mar

Food festival funding, I’m still getting calls and emails asking about this year’s and I so wish people would either read welshfoodbites or ring the Welsh Government Food Department themselves. So at the risk of sounding very much like a stuck record – I do NOT know anything about wag food’s plans on food festival funding for this year and as I keep saying, if I did I’d tell our Best Of Welsh food producers by email and then post on welshfoodbites.

I have however been sent, not by wag food, but by two Welsh Country magazine supporters, details of a wag food meeting or confernece, titled Food Festivals – Building on success – to be held in two weeks time.

I note from the draft outline of the day an item headed, ‘New Funding Scheme For 2017, which will cover, Management, Criteria, Guidelines, Timescales, Next Steps and a Q & A’. So I’m assuming the food festival organisers will then know where they stand for 2017. All I can say is it’s better late than never! I’m looking forward to a festival organiser giving me an update after this meeting as I certainly cannot rely on wag food telling me what’s happening, or if a press release is sent out whether I’ll get sent one.

Please excuse my further confusion at another item titled ‘Food Festival Co-Operation Project’ I’ve no idea what on earth this might be about, or how might work and I can hardly wait to find out – no really I can’t!!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been worried, concerned, annoyed, frustrated, cross, angry, gosh I could go on for ever. But the point is markets and food festivals are the life blood of many Welsh food and drink producers. They need to know early which festivals are running which of course in many instances is related in part to governement funding. But year after years we are left waiting to find out what is happening, all because wag food cannot communicate to producers or the media. It seems in wag’s mind it’s not important that producers AND organisers know what is happening and as that seems to be the case, I might as well give up. There is nothing more frustrating than talking to, or at, ‘someone’ who is unable or unwilling to listen……………..

 

 
 

Morrisons wants to expand its food and drink supplier base.

20 Feb

We have just received news that Morrisons wants to expand its supplier base. Although this will not be of interest to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers on Friday we emailed the details through to them and the link below, despite Morrisons copy righting much of their press release.

For more details and dates etc from Morrisons follow:

https://your.morrisons.com/local/

The gist of it is that Morrison are looking for 200 new domestic food producers to supply their supermarket chain and are targeting England, Scotland and Wales. Producers are being invited to pitch to the supermarket chain in a series of 12 regional events, the first of which kicks off on 14th March in Yorkshire.

Morrisons appreciate Great Britain cannot be entirely self-sufficient in food, but by buying more local food they as a company will be able to help reduce these risks. Morrisons recognise there is an appetite to buy local – as we at Welsh Country magazine know so well – and their research shows that 67% of UK shoppers prefer to buy British. Well I’d like a 100% of people in Wales to buy Welsh food and drink, but I’d be happy with 70%!!!!!

Morrisons have 491 stores and around 2 million customers and are looking for small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones. The retailer will also be working with Members Of the Women’s Institute to source and select the best suppliers tin their area.

I’m surprised but pleased to hear a huge supermarket chain such as Morrisons re-enforce the message Welsh Country magazine has been promoting virtually since we first started publishing over 13 years ago. Of course our interest lies solely in our Welsh food and drink suppliers, that’s what we are here for,  I’m 100% behind them and I really hope other supermarkets will adopt this message.

I can only assume that the Welsh Government and the companies on its pay roll to push our Welsh food and drink producers into supermarkets are already on the case, but when I walk around supermarkets I do wonder if anyone in the Welsh Government is really promoting our Welsh producers. Of course I’m well aware that going the supermarket route is not for many of our producers, some of of Best of Welsh & Borders are happy to stay as micro businesses, but for those that do want to supply supermarkets they should be given every bit of help available as this can often by a tough, long process, but well worth the effort if it comes off.

If we have any further news, I will of course update you.

 
 

Food Festival Funding

06 Feb

Food Festival Funding, as happens each year, I’m getting asked what’s happening about Welsh Government food festival funding. Sadly, as always, I haven’t a clue. I’ve heard many rumours, but can assure you when wag food tell me – which hopefully they will – our Best Of Welsh & Border producers will be the first to know. Plus then it will be posted on welshfoodbites.co.uk.

One producer suggested I ask the Welsh Government’s press office, which certainly made me chuckle as seemingly he’s been reading welshfoodbites otherwise he’s know that for the second time the wag press office have refused to answer any questions from me, as Welsh Country magazine. Apparently we posted on welshcountry.co.uk a press release from Open Spaces Group, but wag press office, as so many people do, visited our welshcountry website and spotted the Open Spaces post. We were then in trouble because we as Welsh Country hadn’t gone back to the press office to give them a right of reply! Apparently the press office expects a right of reply on issues/articles that relate to the Welsh Government, which they say they get from all other Welsh media. So the Welsh Government press office now class welshcountry.co.uk as ‘merely a depository for unchallenged press releases’ and believe we should make that clear on our site. I’m perfectly happy with welshcountry.co.uk, I’m thrilled with visitor numbers we get on our site and the positve feedback we get from it too! If we had the time and the staff to read through in detail every press release we post and thenh if wag was mentioned I might consider doing just that, but it seems they are ok with my chasing them up three times for a question I wanted answered. The press office appear unconcerned that we do not post any Welsh Government press releases on welshcountry.co.uk  or in Welsh Country magazine, not sure why that is……..

I find this attitude petty and pointless and achieves nothing apart from the press office trying to stamp their influence on Welsh Country magazine. This is the second occasion the wag press office have refused to answer my questions, I find it simply annoying and frustrating. So no questions answered through the press office but thank goodness the Freedom Of Information Act, (FOI), is still an option open to me,  albeit it takes 20 days to achieve that. Perhaps if wag press office were funding their own office and staff and were not being paid for by the tax payer, they’d realised how expensive and time consuming the FOI is. Yes I realise I’m being harsh and unfair as it’s unrealistic for me to expect civil servants to understand the difference between civil servants and those running businesses.

Anyway the latest news on food festival funding for 2017 is there isn’t any. Food festivals that are advertising this year will of course get our support in Welsh Country magazine, on our website and of course on social media too but if/when a list of Welsh Government funded food festivals is ‘sent’ through to me it will as always be sent around our Best Of Welsh & Border producers and then posted on welshfoodbites.co.uk.

Sorry I can’t give you the information you are asking me for but that’s the situation we are in.

 
 

Taste Wales – Is It Only Me Confused?

13 Dec

Ian showed me a mini piece from Wales Business Insider, WBI, which is a B2B regional title, saying as follows: Taste Wales – Food-focused trade show and conference gathering producers with UK and international buyers. It’s expected to include partnering sessions for producers and buyers to make contacts; a showcase of Welsh products; insight into innovation, skills development and business support; and an evening reception.

Well dear readers, isn’t this interesting? WBI is a regional title, one of five regional titles published. Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but Welsh Country magazine is a Welsh title, published for 13 years and focusing heavily on Welsh food and drink, but have we been sent details of this event? No we haven’t. Why not? Well maybe that question is best directed to the Welsh Government, or perhaps the Welsh press office………………..but as I’m not supposed to talk to wag and the Welsh Government press office have refused to answer any further questions from Welsh Country magazine, I’m stuck!

Using Google, I typed in ‘Taste Wales’ TW, and ignoring the food delivery business running under that same name, I got directed to Business Wales. Once on that site I searched for Taste Wales and was told to refine my search, but Food and Drink and Growing Together then showed. Scrolling down under Information, 8 headers were shown but no Taste Wales. Scroll down again and found 2 headers for News & for Events. Click on Events and guess what showed up first? Taste Wales! Other events showed up along the same line, not in date order, but why would I expect that to happen? I guess it’s my job to search and it seems it is wag’s job to not make that too easy.

All I’m asking is for wag and wag food to keep me, as a journalist, updated, particularly on the Weksh food and drink front. Then if I think it relevant I shall tell my Welsh Country readers but will most certainly keep readers updated on welshfoodbites and send any food and drink press releases to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers. In a nutshell I’m trying to help Welsh food and drink. I just didn’t think it would be so difficult getting that message across to wag.

 

 
 

Scottish Government Considers Enshrining The Right To Food

18 Nov

Following a report by the Independent Working Group on food poverty, the Scottish Government is considering enshrining the ‘right to food’ in Scots Law. Enshrining this in law would in effect make the government responsible for ensuring everybody has access to affordable food. The Independent Working Group wants to not only give people further opportunities to access nutritious food, but also to experience community meals and develop culinary skills, with the belief that this would do more to counter the problem of long-term food poverty.

The Scottish Government provides funding for the Food For Life Catering Mark which encourages schools to meet standards in provision of fresh, traceable food meeting nutrition guidelines. Over one third of Scottish primary schools now serve FFL Catering Mark meals.

Interesting news from Scotland.

 
 

Wales To Host Great Taste Judging Roadshow

18 Nov

Regular readers will not be surprised – that wag food didn’t tell me this – but Lesley Griffiths, Wag’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, has announced that Wales will host judging of Great Taste 2017’s Welsh entries to Great Taste 2017 on home soil.

The judging will form part of the eight week process where 10,000 products from the UK and beyond will be assessed by hundreds of independent judges.

Apparently the Cabinet Secretary announced the news at a celebration event for 2016’s Welsh Great Taste winners but seemingly her team didn’t think this worthy news to tell the Welsh media. Obviously no publicity required.

It remains a mystery to me that wag food still have learnt how to communicate to Welsh food and drink producers or the Welsh media. For me it is commonsense but as we frequently say in our Welsh Country magazine office, commonsense is not commonly available, and certainly not, it appears in wag food. That’s such a shame as it’s another opportunity lost and with Welsh food and drink supposedly being so important to wag, you have to ask why this is?

You really couldn’t make this up …………………….