RSS
 

Archive for August, 2010

Gastronomic Tourism Kicks Off In Mold

31 Aug

I’m delighted to hear that Mold Food & Drink Festival and Flintshire Tourism Association have joined forces to create Flintshire’s first ever Food Conference. It takes place on 24th September at the Beaufort Park Hotel, near Mold.

The objective is to source the best Welsh local suppliers and bring in the hospitality businesses to meet, greet and taste the best Welsh produce – the goal is to impress tourists and visitors and no doubt local people too. The one day event will cover Speed tasting, The Great Food Debate and Culinary Tourism.

If you’re a food producer, retailer or in the hospitality business and want to learn more about how to develop your business, book your space now by visiting: www.moldfoodfestival.co.uk/Conference.

My congratulations to all involved in taking the initiative to set-up this conference. Events like this a very much needed and I do hope that the day is a huge success.

 
Comments Off on Gastronomic Tourism Kicks Off In Mold

Posted in Uncategorized

 

Welsh Lamb Must Not Be Wrongly Described On Restaurant Menus

17 Aug

Trading Standards Inspectors from five councils in north Wales found that 50 per cent of 244 restaurants, hotels and pubs visited in their areas claiming to serve Welsh Lamb are not doing so.

Hybu Cig Cymru, (HCC) Chairman Rees Roberts said: “I congratulate the trading standards departments of these councils for bringing this situation to light. It’s important that if it says Welsh Lamb on the menu, it’s Welsh Lamb on the plate. Businesses that fail to comply with the regulations surrounding the description of Welsh Lamb could be open to prosecution from the local authority trading standards department, the Rural Payments Agency or other relevant enforcement bodies.”

What disappointing news for everyone involved in the Welsh meat and food industry. Welsh Country magazine has been one of many, encouraging restaurants and eateries to let customers know that they are serving local produce. But this high level of deception found in north Wales is a bitter blow for all who have pride in the quality and variety of our Welsh food.  

It’s great news for our exports that HCC have found markets in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and also interest of late in China – but many people are still struggling to get Welsh meat here in Wales. But is there a quick and easy way to stop these cheats who are destroying all the hard work that has been done to promote Welsh meat? If it’s happening in north Wales, what’s happening in the rest of the country?

 
 

Cardigan River & Food Festival – 14th August

16 Aug

To take a call this morning about Cardigan River & Food Festival was not the best start for me, as we hit the printers on Friday with our Sept/Oct issue; we’ve a busy week ahead. The gentleman caller was complaining that he had to pay £1.00 each for him, his wife and his two 17 year-old grand-daughters and he wasn’t happy. His view was that he was going there to shop, instead of going to his local farm shop, but as his farm shop, or any other shop for that matter didn’t charge him to enter, He hadn’t had this issue at Lampeter! He would much prefer spending the £4.00 entrance fee on varieties of chutney, beer, cider or cheese that he’d not tried before, which meant he spent less with the traders.  

It’s quite a few years since I visited this festival, even though it’s quite local to me, so I was unaware they now charged, or if the charge was  worth it. I did suggest that maybe it was because of the entertainment or demos, but that didn’t help because Lampeter also had activities going on all day!

I then tried to help by explaining that as far as I’m aware, food festivals supported by Welsh Assembly Government, WAG Food, are run as individual events and can spend their funding as they wish. If events wish to charge an entrance fee, that’s their decision. Cardigan didn’t used to charge, but maybe this is one way they think will help them balance their books. I suggested he rang or wrote to the event putting his point across, but I’m not sure whether that will happen.

However it’s not also Cardigan festival that had upset him – it was Welsh Country magazine too! Apparently I should have written about the Cardigan festival  in our J/August issue, if I’d done that then he’d have known about the entrance charge and not gone at all………………..

I explained that when food festivals support us with advertising, I’m delighted to write about them in that issue and will also put all their press releases on our website. But as Cardigan and Lampeter didn’t have any money to advertise with us, they didn’t get editorial coverage, why should they? For despite our strong local food passion, we’re not a charity. But that answer didn’t quite hit the spot either, as he said that last year I trailed all the up-and-coming WAG Food Festivals in various issues and he said we should still do that.

I told him that in 2008 & 2099, WAG Food placed two pages of food advertorial in each issue and as our policy is to work with those that are working with us, I decided to not only feature all WAG Food press releases on our website, but as he correctly pointed out, trailed all WAG food festivals. But this year, budget cuts at WAG Food mean that they are not with us each issue so that arrangement has not continued. It’s very disappointing that we couldn’t continue running as we were, but that was WAG’s decision.

I’m not sure that despite all my explanations, my caller agreed with me – and as for me I can only hope the week gets better…………………….

 
 

Tradestands At Food Festivals

10 Aug

I have had too many comments over last few months from food producers who are not happy with some food festivals. Visitor numbers down is one complaint, with the other one being that not many people are spending. Well there is little choice but to accept if the organisers have got the visitors to their event, then the onus is on the producers to try and clinch those much needed sales. However if organisers are failing to attract visitors to their event, then you have to question what their PR & Marketing plans are – well that’s if they have them. Now that is not a flip comment, as I am well aware that many food festivals are totally reliant on volunteers and many volunteers have never done PR/Marketing/Advertising before.

The Welsh Country team ring around the festivals that are supported by Welsh Assembly Government, WAG Food, hoping of course that they will come with us on the advertising side. If they do then we can really help by giving them editorial in the next issue of Welsh Country and also put all their Press Releases on our website, giving them additional ways to gain extra publicity for their event. But when we are told ‘they’ haven’t planned their advertising for a festival two months away, or even worse don’t have any advertising budget, despite money from WAG – then my alarm bells start ringing. They have taken up front money for tradestands from producers, but haven’t bothered working out how they are going to get local people there – let alone any visitors or holidaymakers. Ok I have a PR & Marketing background, but this really isn’t that tough a job, it just needs planning and preparation and some hard work. If help is needed, surely WAG can give some guidance…………………….

This is really something that needs looking at and at least give our food producers a fair crack of the whip to sell their produce – it is their livelihood after all.

 
 

Faenol Food & Craft Festival

05 Aug

It has officially been announced today that Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. This means that our Food & Craft event which was running alongside will now not take place. Without support from WAG Food for this event, the Welsh Country team have put in a tremendous effort to get the food and craft side up and running and we have been so encouraged by the response we have had. It has been phenomenal for both the food and the craft stands, from chefs wanting to cook in the demonstration kitchen, a new food company wanting to launch themselves there and such a wide variety of artists and craft people, it never fails to impress me with the wealth of talent Wales has on this side.

This is horrid news for all involved and another huge disappointment for the north Wales area. Bryn’s event has always brought massive visitor numbers and it is another blow that the tourism industry does not need. But despite all efforts by the organisational team the ticket sales just weren’t high enough to continue with confidence.

 Again our thanks to you all for your support, already we have had wonderful calls and emails appreciating our efforts and undestanding our disappointment that the event is not going ahead. Follows is just one from Great Orme Brewery: It is indeed sad, and I imagine for you personally very frustrating, however I hope that this year’s cancellation does not reduce the aim to hold the food festival at the event in future years.

Kind regards and thank you

 Jonathan

 
Comments Off on Faenol Food & Craft Festival

Posted in Uncategorized

 

Welsh Ice-Cream

02 Aug

The Beach Hut, Llangrannog, Ceredigion

Visited this café a couple of weeks ago. I think it only opens from Easter onwards and closes during the winter.  But I was very disappointed to see a huge sign advertising ice-cream from the West Country. We’ve lots of  fantastic ice-cream makers here in Wales and I would have expected the Beach Hut to be suporting and selling Welsh ice-cream. The owner was not there when I visited, but I’ll be back and see if we can sort out a Welsh supplier for next season. Actually it was just as disappointing as seeing a Cornish pasty shop in nearby Newquay, when I know how good our Welsh pasties are.

 
 

The Big Welsh Bite – Sunday

02 Aug

The Big Welsh Bite is a food festival I have not attended before – so Sunday was the day!!! It’s quite a drive from west Wales and I would have felt more confident seeing some signs when I approached Pontypridd, that I was still going in the right direction – but, having said that it was well worth the effort. The guys on the gate were most helpful directing us where to park without using the multi-storey and the setting was ideal.

We had plenty of our Best Of Welsh producers there and it is as always great for me to get their positive feedback on the event. Rhondda Cynon Taf are to be congratulated on their organisation of this event, I was told there were intermittent problems with electricity over the weekend, but I hope RCT can ensure that doesn’t happen again next year. If you need electricity to run fridges, ice-cream units, or coffee machines and the like then it puts those traders in an impossible situation. However RCT staff kept visiting the stands, talking to the traders, making sure everything was ok, no need for bin bags etc. I’m delighted to hear tales like that because it makes such a difference when you are running a tradestand, organisers continuing to make an effort even after they have banked your cheque! So well done RCT. I couldn’t find anyone from the Miller Research team doing their survey on Sunday, but I’m not sure if they are supposed to attend all the festival dates or just one.

One annoyance was the number of give-aways, flags, hessian bags, mouse mats, pen holders, key rings and endless pens. I’d love to know how much all these give-aways cost and what Councils think they achieve. It was a similar scenario at the Royal Welsh Show. Surely we can spend money more wisely………………………………….