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Archive for February, 2011

Rankings Rise Yet Again

25 Feb

I”m now having to re-consider how busy you lot are ………………………….as I simply cannot believe what is happening with our rankings shooting higher and higher.

Don’t worry I’m only teasing, I know how hard you all work!! But do you think that maybe it’s due to lots of Wag people who are spending a much of their time reading welshfoodbites? Mmmmmm guess that’s a possibility! But if that is the case, it would only be polite to congratulate them and say that I admire their good taste in Welsh food websites. I look forward to getting their comments in ………….. 

Our latest figures are shown below:

Ranking @ 25/2/11: welshfoodbites was 556,888 as compared to truetaste.tv at 2,038,842 and walesthetruetaste at 1,643,779 

(Source Alexa taken over a 3 month period)

 
 

Our Rankings Go Up, Up, Up – Thanks Again To You

24 Feb

I can’t believe you busy people can find the time to browse welshfoodbites – but you certainly are, as figures below show – can you guess which two sites are funded by us the taxpayers through, WAG,  the Welsh Assembly Government?

Ranking @ 24/2/11: welshfoodbites was 570,424 as compared to truetaste.tv at 2,037,060 and walesthetruetaste at 1,642, 717 

Our Welsh Country and welshfoodbite team are loving all your input. It’s helpful and encouraging to hear your thoughts and concerns about the Welsh food scene. We’re also pleased that you love what we are doing. Many thanks

 
 

Are Trade Unions Worth It?

21 Feb

I had an interesting chat with a farmer/producer on Saturday, discussing the state of the Welsh food industry and the problems and opportunities that will face those involved in food this year. This guy’s family had farmed for quite a few generations and he’d taken the opportunity to do some farm diversification over the last few years. He certainly grabbed my attention when he chatted about the roles the unions had played in farmers’ lives. Having The National Union Farmers and Farmers Union Wales in his view is not always a bonus but he did feel that having a union fighting for your side in Wales and in Westminster was a huge bonus. He felt that the unions also gave the farming industry solidarity and of course much more weight to get their message heard.

I have never been a pro-union person, but he did get me thinking, especially when he commented that a union is what the food industry needs! As he explained further I did understand what he was getting at. He did know the food market and was aware that despite the huge amount of money spent on food in Wales only two counties feel that they should have a food officer – Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. He said that Wales used to have four Regional Food Managers but now thinks there are only two still in post. His concern was that producers struggle to get their voice heard and WAG doesn’t really talk to producers and find out what they want and what they need.

I explained that I have already raised the lack of communication with WAG and hoped that it would have been taken on board, but from what he was saying there has been little progress made. My farmer friend was aware that in November 09 I had arranged a meeting with Rural Minister Elin Jones, WAG and some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers. Maybe it’s something that we should do again…….

This farmer really did feel that the strength of the unions allowed famers voices to be heard and they could get many of their basic problems heard and often solved, this is a luxury that our food producers feel that they a basically flying solo.

I wonder if you have given the union or officially recognised group issue a thought? But how do you feel about this topic? Are unions or officially recognised groups a bonus, or simply another invoice for you to pay from your dwindling funds?

 
 

Our Rankings Rise – Again Thanks To You

18 Feb

Gosh you have all been very busy visiting welshfoodbites and it really is appreciated. As of 18/2 welshfoodbites was 627,015 compared to truetaste.tv at 2,070,854 and walesthetruetaste at 1,661,858   (Source Alexa taken over a 3 month period)

How good is that against two WAG funded sites?  

(Source Alexa taken over a 3 month period)

Isn’t that great news?

Here at Welsh Country, the team and I really appreciate your support, your suggestions and your queries. I think most of you know that we’ll do whatever we can to help if you have specific issues or worries about the Welsh food industry, but after reading posts on welshfoodbites, you’ll know how difficult it is for us to get answers.

 
 

Information Is Not In The Public Domain – But Why Not?

17 Feb

In the past few months I have been fobbed off twice with the – not in the public domain – response from WAG. But have not been informed as to why the information I have asked for isn’t in the public domain. Who makes the decision to keep it secret?

On the 8/10 I asked WAG for an individual listing of the amounts given to food festivals over 08/09 -10/11 under the Rural Development Plan Supply Chain Efficiency Programme. There was no response so I chased again and on 18/10/10 was told: ‘the totals are in the public domain, but not individual amounts’. My question was then forwarded to the Press Office and I waited until 8/11/10 to be told: ‘We are not in a position to release individual amounts awarded to each festival’.     

With no explanation I was obviously not happy. But some time ago I’d had a helpful meeting with Assembly Member Nick Bourne at The Cliffs, Gwbert, Cardigan, and so decided on 15/11/10 to ask for his help. Well Nick didn’t hang around and put through a Written Assembly Question on 24/11/10 to Rural Minister Elin Jones. Thankfully we didn’t hold our breath, but eventually did get the full individual listing through from Elin Jones, on 1st February 2011, some four months later. Patience is a virtue but I must also say that it makes interesting reading but didn’t follow what WAG had told me that food festivals must aim for self-funding, when the festivals generally got their funding increased over this three year period. In fact a couple of them got increases of £14k – £16k!!!

Regular visitors will be aware of the Food Festival Organisers meeting held on 8th February. The organisers were to be told about the new criteria being developed for food festival support and the future allocation of funding for them. I wanted to include an update in our M/April issue and asked for this information giving them a deadline, as they’d asked for, of 11/2 at 4.00pm.          

WAG Press Office responses:

11/2/11 17.20

‘Sorry to have missed your deadline, it has been a busy day here and I have been working to get line to you. I will do what I can to get something soon’.

(Well whatever she was ‘working’ on for me hasn’t arrived, but are there any busy producers or editors out there? Another question for them is what does a deadline mean in their world? In my magazine world if you can’t hit a deadline the onus is on you to say so. Their failure to supply what I needed meant that I did not have their updated information to give to my readers in our M/April issue. WAG seem unconcerned that my readers and our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers have been asking us what is going on with festivals this year. We certainly don’t need any more uncertainty than we already have in the food industry. We haven’t got the security of a regular salary in the bank at the end of each month like some ………        

Friday 11/2 16.03

From a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson:
“At a recent meeting, festival organisers were consulted on this year’s grant application process and the results of research into food festivals. More information for festival organisers will be made available directly to them on Monday. ”

Tuesday 15/2 14.17pm  

In response to your latest enquiry for the notes of the Food Festival organisers’ meeting last week, we would not release this information as it is not in the public domain.  May I suggest if you still want the notes that you contact the Assembly’s Freedom of Information Office at the following email address freedomofinformation@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Well there we are again – ‘not in the public domain’ – but no explanation why not? These people are spending our money but apparently you and I are not allowed to know how it is spent. I’d be interested to know what you think about this latest run around from WAG……………………….

 
 

Food Festival Meeting 8th Feb

15 Feb

On 8th February I asked WAG Food, Welsh Assembly Government, Press Office as I’d been instructed to do, for the notes and presentation details from the Food Festival Organisers meeting being held that day in Aberystwyth. I’d been told that the meeting was to deliver an interim evaluation report as new criteria are being developed for food festival support. I asked what were the organisers told about future funding and what’s the future for festivals this year? I also did as I’d been asked and gave them a deadline of Friday 11th February, 4.00pm  

This was all basic information that our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and our readers want to know and I had planned for a piece to go in our M/April issue. However my deadline came and went with nothing from WAG Press Office. I chased them again and received the following email:

WAG Press Office stated on Friday 17.20: “Sorry to have missed your deadline, it has been a busy day here and I have been working to get it to you. I will do what I can to get something soon”.

Then at 18.03 a WAG Food, Duty Press Officer stated:  “At a recent meeting, festival organisers were consulted on this year’s grant application process and the results of research into food festivals. More information for festival organisers will be made available directly to them on Monday. ”

I’ve obviously been very lucky in my journalistic life, as I’ve not had any Press Office fail to hit a deadline for me. WAG Food Press Office also appear to have forgotten that in their role, communication is the key. To be told they are so busy, makes me feel totally unimportant. From their side it’s ok for them not only to miss my deadline, but also unprofessional when they’re obviously too busy to tell me…………

Welsh Country magazine hits the printers next week, but far be it for me to complain about being busy!!!  I know the Press Office are a small team, but don’t give me that as an excuse – so is the Welsh Country team.     

No-one contacted me on Monday – I chased them again today, Tuesday and have given them a 12.00 deadline for more news but again this has been missed – another busy day in the WAG Food Press office do you think?

 
 

Welsh Food Bites Moves Up The Rankings -Thanks To You

11 Feb

Another thank-you because our rankings just keep getting better –  keep it going!!!!  

As of 11/2 the ranking on welshfoodbites was 672,047 as compared to truetaste.tv at 2,086,384 and walesthetruetaste at 1,701,446  

(Source Alexa taken over a 3 month period)

 
 

More Festival News

11 Feb

I feel like I’m running around in circles with the Welsh Assembly Government, WAG Food. I’ve tried for the six years to get a list of food festivals that WAG are supporting early. Initially I wanted to publish it in our M/A issue but we’ve only managed to get this listing in time for our M/June issue as WAG cannot supply it any earlier. 

WAG didn’t support us with their normal two page advertorial in each issue last year, due they said to budget cuts, so we were unable to publish their festival listing. I’m not sure if this will happen again this year or not……..

However, whilst on the subject of budgets cuts and funding, we’re all aware that the government axe is falling everywhere. Organisers, producers and our readers have made their worries known to us and we’ve been inundated with requests for this year’s festivals listing. So to make this official, on 8th February, I asked WAG Food Press Office when the 2011 food festival listing will be available and have been told:  ‘around the end of March. There’s not a fixed date as yet.’

So not sure if you think that’s helpful but there we are. So to be positve about this and to support our Best Of Welsh & Borders food producers, we’ve given ourselves yet another foodie job and complied a draft version of food festivals for 2011. We sent this to them at end of January and have been pleased that they have apprecaited what a huge effort we’ve made. Please visit www.welshcountry.co.uk for more information and also check out www.welshfoodbites.co.uk for all the latest news, views and gossip about Welsh food. 

Two important changes that I’d like to remind you about is that Llanwrtyd Wells Food festival will not be running in April and that the Really Wild Food Festival is moving from its usual September date to July 29th– 30th

 
 

Cardiff International Food Festival

08 Feb

 Just taken a call from a food producer who says that Cardiff International Food festival has increased its tradestand prices by 33%!!! WOW, even for a venue in the capital Cardiff, that’s huge. The organisers are even talking about how they can get visitors to pay to go in too.

Is this is how the festivals are going to go this year?

Please update me if you have any further information ………..   welshfoodbites.co.uk

 
 

How Bleak Will The Future Be For Food Fesitvals?

04 Feb

Future funding for food festivals has been a worry as the 3 year funding ended in 2010. I have been trying to find out what happens from 2011, but have yet to unearth any news. Following phone calls from a few organisers, I asked WAG in January when the Food Festival Organisers annual meeting was and was told it was being arranged. An organiser then kindly sent me an email to say, he’d got his invite for the 8th February.

I have also been talking to AM Nick Bourne about food festivals. Nick’s been told by Minister Elin Jones, about the meeting on the 8th February, telling him that there will be a presentation of an interim evaluation report informing the organisers of the future allocation of funding for food festivals.

I’ve not been invited to the meeting, but I have this morning requested a copy of the report. However I’m sure that some of the organisers will be taking detailed notes and will update me. As soon as I can I’ll update you too. 

Follows are just a few food festival posts: 26th January, 20th January, 2nd December, 26th November, 8th November and 1st November.