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Archive for February, 2013

Another Survey Guys

27 Feb

I’ve not had this officially sent through to me, but thankfully an on–the-ball producer was kind enough to keep me in the loop. The following has been sent to Welsh producers by wag food:

Food and Farming is a key priority area for the Welsh Government and significant resources are directed to support businesses in this sector. To makes sure that support is targeted effectively, we need to maintain a good understanding of what challenges Food and Drink businesses in Wales face.

The Food & Market Development Division (FMDD) has commissioned Strategic Marketing to complete a sector survey of Food & Drink businesses in Wales. This follows on from work carried out in 2012 and will help us to monitor changes in the industry.

I would like to encourage you to participate in the survey should you be contacted by Strategic Marketing and in doing so help to develop appropriate support for your sector.

In the meantime, should you have an enquiry relating to the business support currently available from the Welsh Government you can contact us via the dedicated 03000 6 03000 business services helpline number.

We look forward to the results of this survey and to working with the Food & Drink industry to ensure that Wales continues to grow and excel in this sector.

Please don’t ask me for the survey results from work carried out in 2012, by Strategic Marketing, a company that I understand is based in Cardiff, because I haven’t got any information about it if any has been produced – sorry.

I’m aware that some of you are not keen on doing this sort of thing, in the past you’ve always been careful of what you say because of previous repercussions, but the way I’m looking at this is – things have to change in this industry. You can off load your moans and grumbles to me and often if required I can take these up for you, with varying amounts of success. But in fairness, this is not my ‘proper’ job, plus as you well know, wag doesn’t always listen to me. Not sure why that is …………………!!

Now with a new person temporarily in the hot seat with a further new person due in sometime, this is where we are now. Let’s look to the future, albeit with our fingers crossed. So my advice, if you do get a call and I’m not privy to how many producers they’ll be talking to and how they are selected, I’d like them to use our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers list or at least allow me to put names forward , but that aint going to happen is it? I’d advise say what you think, say what you feel, what help you need and why, but please be constructive.

 

So that’s my view and it goes without saying you can take or leave me advice, I’ll not be offended, promise, just don’t forget it is YOUR industry and YOUR futures. I’ll welcome any feedback posted, which will of course be in confidence as always.

 
 

A Ray Of Hope For Saputo

26 Feb

Further to my last post today, I’ve now received a ray of hope from Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, which is shown in full:

“I am today meeting with the Welsh government’s Minister for Business to discuss the options available to secure the future of the factory and its employees. I have however been contacted today by South Caernarfon Creameries which has expressed an interest in purchasing milk from local farmers. This is encouraging news for local producers and I have contacted local farming unions to bring this development to their attention. Ultimately I want to ensure the highest possible retention of employment within the Newcastle Emlyn area and will continue to do all I can to stop as many job losses as possible.”

Obviously there’s a long way to go, but a little hope on the horizon. For those of you not aware, Edwina Hart is the Minister for Business. Interesting to hear her views on this matter, but not sure I will get to know that!!!

 

 
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Cheese Plant, Saputo, Closing With 70 jobs Affected

26 Feb

This morning I received the following press release from NFU Cymru which is shown in full:

NFU Cymru Deputy President, Stephen James, a dairy farmer himself said, “This news is undoubtedly a big blow to the area, as Saputo is a major employer in a very rural area of Wales. Our thoughts are with those whose jobs are at risk. This is a major worry for farmer suppliers of this company as they enter what will undoubtedly be a period of uncertainty for their business. Many will have been through difficult times previously with Dansco, stayed loyal to the plant and to the new owners, but will see this as a real kick in the teeth that after only a few years in Newcastle Emlyn Saputo looks like it is now pulling out, obviously leaving them in the difficult situation of finding a new purchaser for their milk. With the potential loss of further processing capacity from one of the densest milk fields in Europe we hope that all efforts will be made to try to find a buyer for the plant.”

This is further proof that it’s not only the meat industry in Wales that is facing problem after problem. Working and living on the outskirts of Newcastle Emlyn, I know only too well how rural this area is and how devastating this news will be. The loss of 70 jobs here is dreadful because there are very few jobs available and it is also the knock-on effect to the area with those families having little money to spend in a town which is already having a tough time.

It would be silly of me to hope that those-in-power can come up with a rescue package to replace these jobs; but it’s a very scary picture of these depressing trading times.

 
 

Well Guys – Look For The Logos

20 Feb

This morning I have received the following press release from HCC:

Shoppers will be urged to ‘Look for the Logos’ as retailers across the country join a campaign for the clearer labelling of meat.

Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru will be distributing more than 350 ‘Look for the Logos’ posters to retailers across Wales, encouraging consumers to make sure that they only buy premium quality Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb.

HCC Chairman Dai Davies said: “The horsemeat scandal has underlined the need for clear and honest labelling in the food sector. We are extremely fortunate in Wales because both Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb have been granted Protected Geographical Indication status by the European Union. What that means in practice is that only sheep and cattle born and reared in Wales and slaughtered in HCC-approved abattoirs can be described as Welsh Lamb or Welsh Beef. If anyone describes their beef or lamb as ‘Welsh’ and fails to display the PGI logo, they are breaking the law and can be prosecuted.

That’s why we are urging consumers to look for the Welsh Beef, Welsh Lamb and PGI logos when they visit their local butcher or supermarket. These logos serve as a guarantee of the authenticity of the provenance of the meat, providing shoppers with the reassurance that they need.”

The posters display the Welsh Beef, Welsh Lamb and PGI logos. The PGI logo must be displayed on meat that contains either Welsh Beef or Welsh Lamb.

This poster campaign must count as doing something HCC, so well done for actually doing something. I’m not convinced a poster campaign, and 350 posters doesn’t sound a lot to me, bearing in mind that HCC have already admitted that they cannot provide me with the number of independent butchers there are in Wales. But can I assume that HCC know where all the supermarkets are? Surely even HCC can find that information. I am pleased that our Deputy Minister Alun Davies has urged consumers to look for logos when they visit their local butcher – or supermarket,  is my message getting through? I’d like to think so but will need to see much more than I have so far. My concern for local butchers and local producers continues and I only wish that the HCC shared more of my concern and did more for these two groups.

To help HCC get their logo message out further, we’ve sent their press release out to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers.  Maybe they’ll be more impressed than I am, I just want HCC to do much more ………….

 
 

Horse Saga Gallops On As Castell Howell Withdraw Some Cottage Pies

20 Feb

Castell Howell, the food wholesaler from Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire has withdrawn one of its products following concerns about possible horsemeat contamination. Castell Howell  has contacted five customers who received deliveries of a range of cottage pies. The cottage pies were supplied by frozen ready meals supplier Oak Farm, and there was the possibility of horsemeat contamination.

Supplies of the frozen cottage pie product have been suspended and a recall has been carried out and Oak Farm has launched an investigation, whilst Castell Howell has collected the cottage pies from those customers.

Castell Howell has around forty suppliers of frozen ready meal products containing beef and they contacted all their suppliers once the horsemeat scandal broke. Oak Farm is the only one to come back with possible concerns, although Mr Williams from Castell Howell stated they have yet to hear from all their suppliers. Oak Farm Foods has now instigated a new regime that includes DNA tests.

 

 
 

Support For Welsh Abattoirs Must Remain

19 Feb

If any of you are getting bored or are unconcerned about the ongoing horsemeat scandal, I apologise for my frequent posts. However I will not stop and keep posting until I see from my side, more progress being made. My reasons for doing this are manyfold, Welsh Country magazine is passionate about local food, devoting 10 pages or so each issue. We haven’t had advertising support from wag food since 2010, we’ve been trying to work with HCC for eight but to no avail. But when we get advertisers working with us – we work for them, giving any additional support we can, which is just what happens with our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers list, BOW which is published in every issue of Welsh Country magazine. We have many butchers with us on BOW and it is their corner I’m fighting, behind the scenes with wag and HCC and on welshfoodbites and if needs be in Welsh Country magazine too. I always try in Welsh Country magazine to put out a positive food message to our readers, but I also feel they need to know the truth, especially on stories like horsemeat.

It is vital that HCC and wag food send out a positive message and explain to the Welsh public what an excellent job our local butchers and abattoirs are doing. Then, when they have done that – they carry on doing it – for ever. Welsh public confidence has to be restored and doing nothing HCC is not going to achieve that. Follows is an interesting statement that has been sent through to me and sure many readers will find it of interest.

The Shadow Minister for Environment has hailed the continued hard work of Welsh abattoirs and called for support and confidence in them to remain throughout the current horsemeat scandal.

Montgomeryshire Assembly Member Russell George has tabled a Statement of Opinion asking the National Assembly to acknowledge the exceptional production standards of abattoirs and recognise the fundamental role they continue to hold as exemplars of animal welfare standards, food labelling and food traceability. His actions come amid concerns from small businesses in Mid Wales regarding the perception of abattoirs as developments in the Food Standards Agency’s investigation into the presence of horsemeat in beef products continues.

Mr George said, “The investigation into this scandal must be thorough and those who have been complicit in deceiving the public must be brought to justice. While this work continues, it is important to remember and recognise the extremely hard work of small Welsh abattoirs who continue to set exceptionally high standards. Amid on-going and understandable public worry, it is vital that we do not forget these businesses and continue to have faith in their abilities to provide a first-class service. We must ensure that the illegal behaviour of a minority does not affect the prestigious reputation of Welsh food.”

Antoinette Sandbach AM, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, said, “It is vital that Welsh Ministers work closely with the UK Government to keep the public fully informed throughout these on-going investigations. Illegal and deceptive practices must be stamped out and I have absolute faith that this will happen in the long-term. Public confidence in our abattoirs, many of which are small businesses, should not be shaken at this time. Their exceptional work and produce remain a source of great Welsh pride and I hope all Assembly Members recognise this by signing the statement of opinion.”

 

 

 
 

Food Festival Funding 2013/14

19 Feb

Getting this information from wag has never been easy and it would help many people if this came out earlier. I’m constantly asked by a few organisers, producers and some of our readers, when will the dates be available. This has meant I have posted rather a lot about this of late, but it does show you the efforts I go to to try and help. Now I can give you the latest news, direct from wag’s mouth. I shall refrain from saying the horse’s mouth bearing in mind the other top story – horsemeat!

Anyway back to festival funding. Yesterday wag sent out a comprehensive pack to anyone who is requesting food festival funding. Further down I have posted some of it so producers can understand the criteria wag are expecting the organisers to adhere to. Well, in actual fact the organisers must obey the criteria, otherwise – no funding will be forthcoming. The full pack has already been sent out to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers but here is main part of the application which should be helpful:

Food Culture Grant Funding for Food Festivals Criteria – Annex E

The maximum Food Culture Grant available for Food Festivals is £10,000 or 50% of eligible costs, whichever is the lesser. All applications will be scored against the following criteria:

• All events supported will have food activity as the core. The whole cost of the event must be shown in the application form, however, only the following elements will be eligible for funding:

 Cookery demonstrations – Promoting local / Welsh produce  

Marketing / advertising materials  

Utility costs e.g. water / electricity / refrigeration etc.  

Stands / marquee costs

•Welsh Food and Drink producers must form at least 75% of the total exhibitors, with no less than 25 Welsh food and drink producers exhibiting to be eligible for support.

•Funding is not available for activity which adds value to an existing attraction, e.g. where a charge is made to enter a premises and the food activity is an added attraction.  Where the charge makes a direct contribution to the funding of the festival then these may be considered for support.

•Activity which adds value to an existing market (e.g. Farmers Market) will not be eligible for support.

  • All applications will be required to submit a business plan as part of the application process. As a minimum, your plan must cover the following matters:
    • Aims, objectives and targets
    • Governance and management arrangements with details of relevant experience and track record
    • Budget forecasts (income and expenditure projections)
    • Support from other public sector agencies, for example: local authorities and national governing bodies of sport
    • Details of other funding sources including private sector/commercial sponsorship
    • Risk Management
    • Marketing Plans
    • Legacy Plans and plans for achieving sustainability of the festival in future years
    • Welsh Language provision
    • Sustainable event management
    • Waste Management

 Existing Festivals over £10k will be required to submit a full set of your most recent Audited Accounts.

  • Existing Festivals under £10k will be required to submit a cash flow statement with opening and closing balances taken from your most recent set of accounts.
  • New Festivals, which have never previously applied for funding, will be measured on their application form and business plan alone with your financial proposals.

Should applications exceed available funding, criteria listed in Annex F will be considered when deciding who to award funding to.

A review team will consider each application on its individual merit, and in light of available funding.

The applications will be scored on the following elements in as explained in the criteria:

 

Evaluation Criteria Weighting
Number / % of Welsh food producers 20%
Supporting Welsh Government’s food and drink objectives 15%
Business Plan 40%
Additional Observations 15%
Value For Money 10%

 

Food Culture Grant Funding – Food Festivals Criteria  – Annex F

 The following points should be borne in mind when considering the criteria:

• Promotion of Welsh Food Culture

Clear focus on Welsh food and drink  / supported by strong programme of associated events.

Supporting a good range / quality of producers.

Well established / growth potential.

Supplemented by chefs demos / opportunities to showcase produce.

Awareness raising of the event by promotional material/ Press/signage.

Press, PR and marketing – budget identified/appropriate to the scale of event Greater awareness of local food – championing local producers.

Innovation.

  •  Benefit to Local Community

Educational or social function – building on benefits of fresh, local, quality produce.

Stimulating both the demand for local produce and the supply in the area.

Community engagement/participation Involvement of local businesses particularly hospitality sector.

Cultural entertainment.

Sense of Place.

  •Local Economic Benefit

◦Community links and partner organisational engagement.

Evidence of spend towards local economy e.g. wages / goods / services (accrue to the host community).

Economic impact on Producers.

Creation of jobs.

Sustainability.

Building on the tourism offer / true food destination.

Stimulates new enterprise and business growth.

Other public and private sector investment leveraged.

  •Meeting objectives / aims of the Welsh Government

Grow the sales of Welsh food and drink in the Tourism sector.

Increase consumer confidence in, and awareness of the quality of food purchased in Wales.

Increase sales of Welsh food and drink.

The applications have to be returned by 11th March but after the number of organisers that have been anxiously waiting for funding news I just hope they have their details ready to go very quickly. I’ve been assured by wag food that I should have full details of successful applications w/c 11th April – which is a prompt turnaround bearing in the mind the number of applications expected in, are we going to take bets about the number that are filled in incorrectly? Perhaps not!!!

It’s also a bit of a eureka moment as at long last notice has been taken of welshfoodbites’ many food festival posts when I have moaned and moaned about the lack of marketing & promotion plans, press releases and signage. Let’s hope that when organisers complete these parts, they actually see it through and not just pay lip-service to ticking a wag box.

When the dates and financial details are sent through to me, these will of course be sent around our Best of Welsh & Borders producers and in due course published on welshfoodbites and welshcountry.co.uk It is very unlikely these will be published in Welsh Country magazine unless wag wish to do so.

 

 

 
 

Clear Guidance HCC – Where Is It?

18 Feb

I’m intrigued to know what plan of action HCC are working on to help our butchers and inform and re-assure the Welsh public about the horsemeat fiasco. But maybe I’m just being silly by assuming that HCC are working on a plan! I have no idea how HCC are going to calm and assure the Welsh public, but it is certainly a job that needs doing and should have been done ages ago as this horsemeat fiasco continues, I also want to now how they are going to convince those in the industry that they have an action plan, but do they? This story is NOT going to go way, and most of us are convinced it is going to get worse, but HCC must do more to reassure the public and help the meat trade that is paying their wages.

True to their press release, the NFU did take adverts in national newspapers. In case you didn’t see any let me update you . I saw the Daily Mail on Saturday and saw two consecutive half page adverts. The first was headed – Leading The Way In High Standards, Great British Farmers Are Proud To Produce Great British Food – Buy British. The second advert was headlined with three different logos and Quality Assured. It stated: All fresh beef, lamb, pork or bacon that carries the Red Tractor or Quality Standard labels meets high production standards and is fully traceable back to independently inspected farms in the UK. It’s the easiest way to be sure of the provenance of the meat you’re buying. Plus there was no chance of readers missing the Union Jack flag either!!!

So the NFU are now getting a positive message out to the public which is something and so needed. Of course I’d have liked them to do it earlier as this scandal rumbles on, but then I’m not called impatient Kath for nothing! I’m just grateful the NFU are not ignoring this situation. However I’m still not convinced the public understands the ‘assured food standards’ label. My view is that this logo message needs to be continued and hammered through to the public long and hard, until it is as identifiable as say some national food chain logos! My other concern is their Red Tractor logo, which I understand only applies to meat in the supermarkets. Of course the supermarkets would be well looked after wouldn’t they? But how about looking after the local butchers by focusing on them too?  Don’t they deserve your support too?

 

 
 

NFU Springs Into Action

18 Feb

I received the following press release through this afternoon, shown in full:

Ten UK wide newspapers will all carry the message that British farmers are leading the way in high standards for fresh, British food as the NFU launches a Buy British campaign this weekend.

Adverts encouraging the public to buy British will run across the UK national press, highlighting the message that Great British Farmers produce Great British food. And with consumer confidence leading the agenda shoppers are being reminded to look out for the farm assurance logo, the Red Tractor, which stands for traceable and independently inspected food, from farm to pack. The campaign is in direct response to the scandal which has seen horsemeat being passed off as beef in some imported frozen foods and has highlighted the complexity of the food chain in some products.

Using the twitter hashtag #buybritish the NFU will also be championing British produce on social media and encouraging consumers to show their support and buy the high quality food produced on British farms.

NFU President Peter Kendall said, “British farmers are very proud of what they produce and are, quite rightly, furious about this current situation. They feel let down by what looks like a criminal element in an isolated part of the food chain. Our meat industry is highly regulated and it is imperative that we remind consumers that British farmers work to some extremely stringent standards. This gives me confidence that fresh, British meat should remain top of the shopping list”.

NFU Cymru President Ed Bailey said, “Our members are rightly angry and concerned over the recent developments relating to contaminated processed meat products. This contamination took place beyond the farm gate in an area of the food supply chain that farmers have no control over. This scandal has never been a farming issue but it is certainly an issue that NFU Cymru is taking extremely seriously, we are working closely with other key stakeholders in the industry to uphold the reputation of Welsh and British farmers who are fully committed to producing world class raw ingredients in to the supply chain. This whole system of quality is being completely undermined by failures within the supply chain and reinforces our call for clearer labelling. In the meantime we must urge shoppers to look closely before purchasing their food, we hope that our UK wide advertising campaign, the concurrent HCC campaign which is encouraging all shoppers to ‘look for the logos’ when buying Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef which have been awarded the European Unions coveted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) mark and also the Red Tractor logo on fresh meat which shows the products have been produced to world-class standards and which have been independently inspected will help to provide confidence to the consumer of the provenance of their food. Consumers should have the confidence that the products they buy are what they say they are. Our message to them is that our farms produce high quality produce and we want the public to continue to show them support.”

Well at least the NFU are doing something to help farmers and producers, which is much needed news, could have been sent out much earlier but let’s just say better late than never. However I’m not quite sure what the NFU mean by ‘the HCC campaign’ unless I’m wrong, what they are classing as a ‘campaign’ I understood was just a  press release sent out entitled: Shoppers advised to ‘Look for the Logos’. I’m sure to a few people looking for logos will make sense, but as for PGI status I don’t agree. Of course it will make sense to those in the trade, but not to Joe Public and those are the ones that need educating and if this is done it will help our primary producers and our butchers.

 

 

 
 

Horsemeat Raid

13 Feb

Gosh HCC are busy! I’ve received yet another press release/statement from them this morning, which follow in full:

As a result of a joint investigation by the police and the Food Standards Agency, the following statement has been issued by Dai Davies, Chairman of red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru.

“We are shocked by the news that horse carcases slaughtered outside Wales have been discovered at a premises in Ceredigion and that they may have entered the human food chain incorrectly labelled as beef burgers or kebabs,” said Mr Davies. “This is a disturbing development in the ongoing horsemeat scandal, and Hybu Cig Cymru offers the police and the Food Standards Agency our full support to find the truth during this investigation.”

The latest horsemeat news focuses on Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse, in Todmorden, west Yorkshire and Farmbox Meats Ltd, of Llandre near Aberystwyth. The west Yorkshire plant was thought to have supplied horse carcasses to the Aberystwyth firm, which were then allegedly sold on as beef for kebabs and burgers. Both premises were raided by Food Standard Agency, (FSA) officials and supported by police. FSA suspended operations at both premises and seized paperwork.

Andrew Rhodes, FSA stated: “We’ll keep pursuing this until there is nothing left to find”

Well I’m sure that this story will keep running. I’m sure we are nowhere near the bottom of the barrel yet. Of course the FSA will continue their investigations into horsemeat mislabelling, just prepare yourselves for more and more news. As matters develop I will post further.

I can only hope that HCC don’t go into hiding, but use this horsemeat fiasco to push and promote our independent butchers and producers – it’s part of their job, now I want to see them do it and support these guys.

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