‘A Sense Of Place’ For Welsh Food………

17 Apr

Just to keep you updated, follows is an extract from press release received from Wag on 30th January about their support for food festivals.

Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said, “Each year food festivals in Wales contribute millions of pounds to the economy and are a key element in promoting Wales’ burgeoning food culture and giving visitors a sense of place’. Large or small, they have their own distinct character, but with one common thread – to bring to the public’s attention the fantastic array of food and drink produced in Wales.”

The press release ended by saying:
Any financial support provided by FMDD will be limited to that which is necessary to achieve the overall objective of providing capacity building opportunities for food & drink producers from Wales as well as contributing to a broadened & strengthened rural economy”.

Well this got me thinking, or fuming, because basically I’m not sure what this press release means. Initially I would think building opportunities for food and drink producers from Wales is spot on, until I get complaints from producers saying that some festival organisers, give priority to producers from outside Wales.  But its not just a priority in allowing them tradestand space, but often they get the best sites too! So how does that work? Especially considering that this isn’t just happening at the larger, or let’s say Wag’s ‘Big Three’, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff that allow all comers in from the UK, but those that I’d class as only small to medium size events. When I have raised these issues with Wag, I’ve been told that as this funding is from European money, all
tradestands must be accepted.

But if you’re a visitor to Wales and go along to one of our food festivals, where do you expect the food to have come from, the Isle of Wight, Scotland, Oxfordshire, Yorkshire? Of course not. ‘A sense of place’ for our visitors has to mean local food, food sourced here in Wales from our superb artisan producers. Isn’t that what you’d expect too?

So why then does Wag’s press release appear to say that they are backing our food producers all the way? That
is certainly not what I hear day after day so eiother Wag is wrong or our producers are. After talking contstantly to our Best If Welsh & Borders producers, I certainly know which I believe.


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  1. Jane

    April 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

    a sense of place and local food, more wag jokes in very poor taste.
    Welsh food festivals should be for Welsh producers, supplying Welsh food. That doesn’t happen all the time and wag ignore the problem as they do with most of our problems. Pity they can’t talk to us like you and Ian do. Can’t recall when I last saw a wag person at a festival. Heard one was at Cowbridge but it must have been a token gesture not there for hours like you two are. That’s why you both know so much of what’ is going right and what is wrong for us, but then wag can’t be bothered or are too full of their own importance to listen to you. That’s so stupid.
    You are a gusty girl to keep this up with wag and I’ll never get why they are still not supporting you again. Petty, pathetic, bullying bunch, or maybe it’s just those at the top. So if you keep the foi questions going, they’ll be spending much, much, more money – and I know it’s our money – having to reply to you. Sad they can’t work out, and I think I’m right but not sure, that whilst they were with you this site hardly existed. Now it knocks their web figures into the ground. My dad always said keep your enemies close but maybe they havent heard of that, sad they are not bright enough to work that out.
    take care I so enjoy reading this newsy site

  2. Producer

    April 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    What on earth is “providing capacity building opportunities”? Well, my dictionary says “capacity is the maximum amount that something can contain”, so maybe a rough translation would be “growth”, but I could be wrong!. Growth for Welsh producers means helping them through this tough time, so maybe some practical help for festival organisers with guide lines to help producers – not too many of the same product, :help with promotion etc to drive people to the festival, and so ensuring “capacity”.
    No, sorry, that would be logical and may give them value for money. Instead we will be subject to quotes from the flawed Miller research as if it was carved in stone.

  3. admin

    April 19, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I think you have it totally correct, growth for Welsh food of course must be through our food producers. But to achieve this wag have to know what the producers want and need, which is impossible for them because they don’t talk to you.
    I have huge sympathy with some festival organisers, the tales we are hearing are nothing short of depressing, but what to do next? Our team has spoken to a few organisers who say they have no advertising budget, so not sure how these festivals are going to be as busy as you all need is something producers need to ask about before booking their stands. Obviously we’ll be working with those festivals that are supporting us but as for the others they might just plug their event locally. The ongoing battle with too many of the same producers continues. But there’s no reason for wag to put that in as a criteria as it doesn’t make a dfference to their pay packet in any festivals are good or bad, does it? Wag are focused on how many food stands are at each event, which then of course puts pressure on organisers to take all traders that apply if they still have space. If not organisers worry that wag will reduce or stop their funding. All festivals have to produce a business plan and food and drink must form at least 80% of all exhibitors. Fesivals over £10k must send through audited accounts and those under £10k must submit a cash flow statment with opening and closing balances taken from its most recent set of accounts. All events have to have food as core activity, which once again leaves Smallholder in a heck of mess and is very unfair as wag as Steve Shearman years ago to run it for them, but Winter Fair and Royal Welsh can continue as before becasue wag fund them out of another budget – which is convenient for the Cash Controllers, but why can’t that happen to Smallholder too. Why is Smallholder treated so differently? Without funding Smallholder has no option but to charge more for stalls than usual and obviously that hits traders profits before they start.
    Does this all go under ‘The Wisdom of Wag’ or shall I just wonder where their wisdom and logic is?
    I also agree with you that Miller Research will be quoted at us and acted on as gospel for the next decade at least even though many of us will query much of it. But now ViistWales is ‘helping’ decide which food festivals get funded, should we be smiling? Not at all another worry for us that care about Welsh food.

  4. Abs

    April 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I must be one of your biggest fans of Welsh Country mag. The number of pages we have for local food is amazing. Fabulous coverage, fantastic quality, and the photographs you use are beautiful – of course those of my products are the best but I’m biased. I’m not alone in my view that your magazine is so well thought of as us traders talk about it too.
    This website has hit things right, it’s full of news and people’s views and for once we find out what is going on and the latest messes wag have made. You’d have thought by now you’d have had a list of food festivals on here, but know why you’ll not print the list in the magazine, that’s wags job not yours, even though it would help us get people to the festivals. But you are running a business as well as us and why would you want to help wag when they’ve done nothing but make life difficult for you?
    Your help is for us producers and we so thank you and your guys for your hard work.
    Thanks for sending the subscriptions I ordered for my family who have moved abroad so quickly. Solved my birthday present problems so easily.
    see you soon I hope at Gorseinnon.
    Wales has a food magazine to be proud of, it’s just silly our food department haven’t realised it yet. They don’t as yet understand PR & Marketing, but my word you are teaching them some lessons about that.

  5. Trader

    April 20, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I am in total agreement with comment from producer
    be in no doubt that Miller’s report will be pushed in our faces for ever and a day
    sure there will no be a single civil servant in food that would have the guts to say any of it let alone most of it is fantasy.
    How convenient that Miller decide that wags big 3 should have international status. Bet that was supposed to shut kath up as they dish out even more money to these 3 once again. Forgetting that wag has been saying to organisers that they must not reply on funding, only their favourites can rely on funding!!!!!!
    Then let’s bring visitwales to advise how much festivals should get, have they put any money in from their pot, I guess not.