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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 …………………….

 

 
 

Welsh Cheese In Aldi?

16 Nov

The reason I ask is that I was looking through their Christmas and New Year booklet – all 50 pages of it. As I’m a cheese lover of course I’d to look at the double-page feature – titled Glorious Cheese – and searched for Welsh cheeses. Well that didn’t take long because as you might know if you’re a Welsh cheese producer, or an Aldi shopper, there’s little Welsh cheese in stocked in Aldi in Wales. So no Welsh cheeses in this feature although there was Cornish Blue, Yorkshire Blue, Buxton Blue and plenty of French cheeses too.

We’ve a number of top Welsh cheese producers in our Best Of Welsh & Borders listing so I thought I’d take some time yesterday, Tuesday 15th to direct my displeasure through the Aldi press office. This I’ve done and had an acknowledgement, but nothing further. At least I’ve tried and I can only hope wag food are trying hard as well.

I seem to be on a cheese theme this week as I also posted today the good news that South Caernarfon Creameries, SCC, have got a selection of their cheddars into all Lidl stores in Wales. We were so chuffed to hear this news and as SCC are with us on Best Of Welsh & Borders, Ian took to Twitter saying shame that Aldi cannot have Welsh cheeses in the Christmas platter. That was quickly responded to by Aldi with them saying: thank you for taking the time to leave feedback; we’ll pass this onto the relevant team.

Goodness knows if anything else will happen and of course it’s too late now for Christmas, but maybe it just might Aldi think again about stocking some of the wonderful array of food and drink that we have in Wales. Welsh food and drink should be stocked at least in Welsh branches of Aldi and Lidl. Of course I’m aware that not too many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers wish to go the supermarket route but for those that do wag food should be helping them on this journey.

As I keep saying I hope the wag food team are on this case ………………………..