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Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival

21 Jun

The team at Cardiff have kindly taken the time to send through to me their festival application criteria which I hope you will find helpful. It is shown in full below.
Cardiff International Food And Drink Festival has always strived to present an eclectic mix of quality produce showcasing the best from Wales along side great food and drink from elsewhere. We have always been proud of our links to our twin cities of Nantes, Stuttgart and Horderland and welcomed their involvement in the event from it’s inception in 1999.

The event’s popularity has grown and grown and we now have some 800 producers on our database. Each January we mailout all producers with details of all food and drink events taking place that year. This currently comprises of The RHS Show in April, Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival in July and The Great British Cheese Festival in September. Each event has a deadline for return and applications are dated they come in. Applications returned after the deadlines are not considered
until all other applications have been assessed.

All of our events are regularly oversubscribed with certain areas such as the Food Piazza at the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival oversubscribed by over 200%.  We ensure that Welsh producers make up the majority of exhibitors at all our events and for the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival Welsh producers make up over 75% of exhibitors. We try to ensure that there are 10-15% of new exhibitors each year in the different areas of the site to keep them feeling fresh but this
can sometimes be achieved by exhibitors who have chosen to move from one part of the site from another. We have always welcomed applications from exhibitors from outside of Wales and believe that including producers from beyond Wales adds to the vibrancy of the event. We look to achieve a balance across product categories but like many festivals are inundated with applications for preserves and baked goods and so producers in these categories are more likely to be disappointed. In short, in selecting exhibitors for our events we focus on quality produce, aim to showcase new and innovative exhibitors and look to achieve the broadest range of produce for our visitors.

One final but very important criteria is that each exhibitor must be able to demonstrate that they are ‘Broadly Compliant’ with food hygiene legislation. In response to the Pennington Inquiry on the South Wales E.Coli outbreak in 2005, Cardiff Council has introduced a ‘Broadly Compliant’ policy across all of the authority’s business activities. This means that any third party providing goods for consumption by the public be they wedding caterers, suppliers to school or exhibitors at our events must achieve a rating of 3* or above under the scheme operated by the FSA. An additional food safety questionnaire is included with our application forms with the instruction that it is mandatory that this is filled in and returned. Our Environmental Health Officers have been working with counterparts across the UK on behalf on producers in counties who do not currently operate this system to establish compliance via alternative reports but some producers have been excluded from the selection process this year if they have not been able to produce satisfactory documentation.

We welcome the input of producers and try to accommodate requests regarding positions, neighbours, access etc wherever possible. When our internal funding was significantly reduced we consulted with them via event feedback forms as to whether we should increase stand fees significantly or introduce an entry price for the event. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of increased fees and so The Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival remains free of charge to the public thus increasing attendance and spend.

Follows are my views, a version of which has been sent back to Cardiff.

Knowing how organisers select stands should be helpful, even if I don’t always agree with the criteria.

Although I can appreciate how from Cardiff’s side supporting your twin cities of Nantes, Stuttgart and Horderland, but does it really do anything for Welsh producers, apart from preventing some of them getting a stand at Cardiff International? Do festivals in Nantes, Stuttgart and Horderland give preference for Cardiff based food producers? You’re turning away Welsh producers because you are over subscribed, but allowing in traders from these three areas……..

Just to give you some background. I’ve asked Abergavenny, Cowbridge and Cardiff, as you all have a fair chunk of WG festival funding, about their selection criteria. This is because our Best Of Welsh & Border producers in Welsh Country magazine, certainly let me know if they’ve been bumped out of an event and it is important producers recognize why organisers have made these selection decisions.
I’m sure you’ll understand, especially with these three popular events, that getting stands there is vital for our producers. It has a dramatic effect on their businesses if they get thrown out of three of the busiest and lucrative food events in Wales, even losing one stand is a financial nightmare for them. These are tough trading times for our producers, and it can be easy for some organisers to forget that traders don’t have the luxury of a guaranteed monthly salary going in the bank – festivals and markets are often their livelihood, which explains why I’m following this through for them.

I’m puzzled that quite a few events appear so concerned about having a ‘%’ of new stalls, ‘for variety’, when they are all oversubscribed. This  must mean that you are forced to ditch some Welsh traders that have been supporting you for years. Do visitors make a point of asking why their particular favourites are no longer there? I’m totally unconvinced that variety is an issue with visitors and I was certainly asked why certain stall weren’t at Abergavenny last year. It does though serve me right going around with a press badge on!!! I also disagree with English stands adding variety, are we really so low on producers that our Welsh producers are not varied enough? It will not pacify Welsh producers that have been thrown out and English stands allowed in, when this is funded by the Welsh Government.

This is from feedback I’m getting from our BOW producers and we do have over 100 of them with us in Welsh Country magazine. Of course I’m loyal and supportive of them, because I want them to stay trading and our food industry to grow.

Final thought, is the same application form used for RHS Show, Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, and The Great British Cheese Festival? If not is there any chance this can be changed? My thinking on this is it means traders can just fill in the form once, copy or scan it and save themselves some time. Ideally I’d like all festivals to use the same basic form so that this can make life a touch easier for traders, but that might not be easy to achieve!!

I appreciate organisers have a tough job, but so do producers. Obviously you can’t please everybody, and I do understand that, but I’m horrified to be told by ‘professional’ Welsh producers that they have been rejected this year after supporting our top events for years.

On 21/6 I got a speedy response back saying basically that they doubt you and I will ever reach a point of agreement, but Im thanked for my comments!!!! Well so much for ‘welcoming the input of traders’ it appears that this is only words from Cardiff. Cardiff are have their criteria right, in their view anyway, and traders can only hope they’ll still get in.

I’m so sorry for those of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers who have either been thrown out or have had to move from their regular favourite spot to get a stand. I know that few of you have the confidence to argue your case for fear of repurcussions in the future. Without a doubt I have wasted my time once again and achieved no changes for you.  My feedback from you is that you think that getting a stand at festivals is akin to winning the lottery and I cannot disagree. But the frustrations still remain.

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  1. trader

    June 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I dont get how wales can pump lots of money into these festivals and welsh traders have no priority, but foreign and english traders can still get in because this is an international festival. Well if these traders get accepted then charge them more than us or get funding from their own countries to help pay for the events.
    Genuine, professional Welsh traders should have a right to get in and not to be moved out to a less busy area so they can still be accepted. That’s a poor joke. These big festivals have grown because of brilliant welsh producers and lots of welsh government funding – now many of us are thrown out because they are oversubscribed. Some of us have no choice but to reply on festivals and markets to trade but does our organisers or government care of course not, no way are they bothered. This is not fair, but our government are as per usual taking a back seat, they stil get paid. Support our welsh producers, well if only that would happen.
    I thank you for putting in this work to give us an idea of what these will say on paper but in practice welsh producers who have not got in are livid.

     
  2. jimbob

    June 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Well,

    We have sent a covering letter from our EHO along with our application this year,as it happens the same documentation as last year which was accepted?,but rejected this year.
    The organisers should look at the applications and be loyal to the producers that have supported them for many years, it is the products & producers that are unique to the festival that makes it so popular, not the ones that have BOGOF deals in the local supermarkets,they want to look on the local shelves and pick the producers that have not sold out to the multiples,they would see that some producers do the festivals as an income and not for promotion.
    Tired now ,
    Fed up with wet weekends & summer wiil start soon.