Archive for December, 2010

How Much Money Has WAG Put Into Food Websites & How Many Are There?

17 Dec

This was a question from a food producer when we were chatting about the follow-on marketing available for True Taste winners. But it was an impossible question to answer or even make a calculated guess at. The list goes on and on and on, apart from Welsh Assmebly Goverment, WAG themselves, there’s visitwales, truetastetv, walesthetruetaste, foodcentres wales, welshfoodalliance, fork2fork, plus many of our 22 Councils have food sites. But the producer’s real concern was how much has been spent on these sites and what have any of them actually achieved over the years. Who knows this information and who is going to tell us?  There’s also an additional query in that beside WAG Food investing our money in food websites, I’m aware that European money has also been invested in some of them which historically in some instances has been in excess of £1.0m. PLease don’t tell me tall this inforamtion shouldn’t be in the public domain – because it should. It’s has never been acceptable that those in power appear to have a total disregard for the value of tax payers’ money – and in these tough economic times even more so.   

My normal route to try and help solve this query would be to talk to WAG Food directly, but I have been instructed not to do that, but I must go through the WAG Press Office. But as the Press Office will not answer any queries if they are for welshfoodbites, how do I get this information? Shall we do an article in a future issue of Welsh Country magazine?         

Now one snippet of information I could give this producer was the ranking on welshfoodbites: On 16th December, it was 1,534,428 compared over the same period to at 2,337,646 (Source Alexa taken over 3 months).  As at 26/1 we are now up to 1,026, 111 on a 3 month average and one a one month average 919,578. These are not impressive figures for truetaste, especially when they were taken over the period when the producers were being short-listed and then the winners announced. The truetastetv website should have been at its peak, but it wasn’t, but why not? Who is responsible for this website’s poor performance and what are ‘they’ going to do about it?


HCC Puts Up A £5,000 Prize Pot For Supermarket Customers

13 Dec

I received the following Press Release from Hybu Cig Cymru:  Connoisseurs of prime Welsh Lamb and Beef now have another 5,000 reasons to tuck into their favourite meat – the chance to win a big cash prize. Red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru has put up a £5,000 prize pot, with one lucky person winning the first prize of £4,000 in cash and four runners-up receiving £250 each.

“Shoppers already appreciate the outstanding quality and value of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef,” said HCC Market Development Executive Amy Lowe. “We see this prize as being a way of expressing our appreciation to our loyal customers, giving them the chance to win thousands of pounds in the run-up to Christmas. It’s our way of saying ‘Thank You’.”

Notes for Editors

Consumers can collect their special Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef barcodes from the following participating retailers: Tesco, The Co-operative and Asda. The competition details are also found on Welsh Lamb packs sold by Sainsbury and Waitrose.

Initially I thought what a good idea until reading that this ‘treat’ applies only to the supermarkets customers. My view echoes one irate producer and not a butcher either, who says, “Disgraceful – it’s the independents that need the support, not the greedy multiples: they have a big enough slice of the pie already! It’s the supermarkets who are putting the independents out of business by forcing down prices to unreasonable & unsustainable levels; which in turn will drive more Welsh butchers & meat producers out of business………HCC should not be encouraging such behaviour.”

I will not hold my breath for HCC to tell me what huge competition they have arranged for independents to say thank you to them ……………………….


Magnificent Mumbles Market

13 Dec

It’s quite some time since I have been to Mumbles Local Produce market, but couldn’t resist going when I was told of the plans for their Christmas festival celebration. Santa and his sleigh, courtesy of the Round Table were on parade and how the children enjoyed that along with face painting, balloon modelling and the stilt walker, there was plenty to keep the amused. The Ariosa Singers were in fine choral voice and treated us to some splendid music along with festive carols. The Morris Dancers had no problem in keeping warm as they danced through their hectic repertoire – often persuading an unsuspecting member of the audience to join them too! It created a wonderful festive atmosphere, along with cookery demonstrations and some superb produce to taste and purchase. It really made the trek to Mumbles really worth the effort.

 Now I am not sure that the traders who actually sold out were delighted or cross that they hadn’t brought more stock with them!! Too much, too little, it’s impossible to work out, it really is.

 Robin Bonham and his hard-working team must be congratulated not only from continuing to put on their Local Market, but for working so hard on Saturday’s event. Parking is always an issue in Mumbles and I have no idea where everybody did manage to park, but the local shops that I spoke to wished Robin ran his market every week, not once a month.

Miller Research were there too, continuing their survey on behalf of WAG Food. As always they had on their stand the latest True Taste book available for people to take away, free of charge. It was sad therefore when I eventually left the festival, that the first waste bin I walked passed had a True Taste book in it. I have no idea how many of these are printed, or the cost or the wastage, but if WAG wishes to continue to fund this give-away, why does it not consider printing a Welsh version and English version instead of forcing us to take a bi-lingual tilt-and-turn copy? As WAG Food budgets, like all others are squeezed, can we not look to reduce this obvious wastage? I cannot see any problem of having two versions, one Welsh, one English providing both are available, can you?


WAG’s Ten Year Food Challenge For Wales

10 Dec

Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones today set a ten year challenge for the food and drink industry in Wales at the launch of the food strategy ‘ Food for Wales, Food from Wales 2010-2020’.  

Following extensive consultation and agreement with industry and stakeholders, the strategy takes a much broader food system approach, linking to cross cutting issues such as climate change, health and sustainability. This ambitious new agenda gives both industry and citizens the best possible future to meet the challenges ahead. During the launch, the Minister called on the industry to work in partnership with Government to secure a prosperous future for the Welsh Food and Drink sector.

 I know that many food producers attended the consultation meetings and I’m sure when you find time…………………………. you’ll read through and feed back your views to our team. A delivery plan will be developed early 2011, we’ve no more detail on when exactly it will be available or how this will be announced, but we’ll keep you up-dated as soon as we are informed.

 My view was a five-year plan, but it seems I was going solo on that one and my fear of such an ambitious plan over ten years. If you have any problems obtaining a copy of Welsh Assembly Goverment,  WAG’s food strategy, just email me and I’ll send it through for you.

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Royal Welsh Winter Fair

10 Dec

Llanwrtyd Wells Food Festival Pulls The Plug For 2011

02 Dec

I was sad to learn in a phone call from Chef Peter James this morning that his committee has reluctantly decided not to run their food festival next year. This long running festival folding and one which we have been involved with as media sponsors for five years, is very upsetting and I fear, a sign of bleak times ahead for the food industry. Peter and his team have had to make this decision now as they have been told by WAG Food, as I have that, they will not know whether there is food festival funding until the end of January. As Llawnrtyd Wells takes place early April, it really doesn’t give them much of a choice does it?  

As regards Food Festivals I have been saying the same thing for too many years; the funding scheme really wasn’t fair. Large festivals were well funded, despite them having the opportunity not only to charge an entrance fee but to attract sponsors – yet they could still take the lion’s share of this ever-decreasing budget. To my mind this wasn’t a difficult scenario, as was evaluating festivals to see if they were doing a decent job. But it was only this year, as the credit crunch bit even harder, Welsh Assembly Government, WAG Food brought in Miller Research to survey all the festivals. Like me you might well ask, why now, to what end is this all about? But on that we shall just have to wait and see if we get told when their job has been done. Although Peter’s festival took place eight months ago, he’s still not had any feedback through yet, not even an interim report. I’m not saying that if Peter had got any feedback, that the outcome for 2011 would be any different, but I know how many hoops organisers have to jump through, ‘ticking WAG boxes’ but where WAG fail is that they don’t feedback. Communication as always is the key, but it appears WAG haven’t got key………

 I’m sure that this will not be the only festival to give up the struggle in 2011 and Wales will certainly be the poorer for it.

 I’d like to thank Peter and his hard-working team of volunteers for all their efforts over the years, it’s one of the friendliest festivals we went too – hence we were keen to take on the role of media sponsors. I hope that WAG Food will also pass on their thanks too……………………………………………………….