Royal Welsh Food Hall

21 May

As always, the RWAS Food Hall never fails to cause anger and upset amongst Welsh food producers. I’ve actually lost count of the number of producers that stopped me at Sunday’s Smallholder event, have emailed me or telephoned in to complain.

My reading of the situation is that a number of producers who have traded on a regular basis in the Food Hall at the RWAS, have now been told they can no longer attend. The initial excuse, or explanation that we have been given is the regular excuse that  Food Hall was oversubscribed and all applications cannot be accepted. Apparently all applicants were sent along with their application form, the scoring criteria, and it was the scoring criteria that was used so that decisions could be made. Follows is the Welsh Government’s official:

A Welsh Government spokesperson said,
“The Food Hall at the Royal Welsh Show is jointly run by the Welsh Government and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society with the application process for stand space being managed through event management company, Fernleigh.

Due to space limitations it was impossible to accommodate all applicants for stand space and a scoring criteria was used which included an emphasis on the use of Welsh produce. All applicants were made aware of this and a copy of the criteria was included in their application packs.

While we appreciate some applicants may be disappointed we remain committed to promoting the wealth of food producers we have in Wales and the quality of their produce.

Now dear readers, much as I want to, I’m not prepared to mention companies who this year have been unceremoniously ousted from the RWAS, but to say that some of these are well known Welsh companies, sums it up perfectly. Ian and I have now asked Fernleigh Design and wag food for a copy of the ‘criteria’ which seems to be the crunch item, but still waiting to receive it from either party.

So without that information I’d like to seriously take wag food and Fernleigh Design to task on their ‘emphasis on the use of Welsh products’. I’d like to know how many companies producing bakery goods can give assurance that they are using Welsh flour and Welsh butter? How many companies producing bara brith and Welsh cakes have found a supplier that grows raisins and sultanas in Wales? I thought wag food might have learnt a lesson from a company – now no longer in existence that persuaded wag that he grew tea in Pembrokeshire. So convincing was this company that wag gave him a True Taste Award and featured him on the front cover of that magazine!!! In part see where wag are trying to come from, but as usual they get it wrong because of their inability to see the bigger picture.

Ideally I’d like to give you examples of companies that have been unfairly thrown out, because that would allow you to understand more clearly how wrong this selection process appears to be, but as I haven’t asked for their permission to do so and bearing in mind it might well stop them getting a last minute stand, I shall reluctantly stay quiet!!! But as some of these are our Best Of Welsh producers, I am furious with both wag food and Fernleigh, and cannot believe that their isn’t a better way to sort this out.

Now you’d think was enough to go on with wouldn’t you? But I’ve sadly not finished having just been told by a third party that producers have been told to pay up by 31st May, if not they lose their stand. Nothing has been arranged for smaller companies to be able to make stage payments through to July, it’s pay now, in full, or else!!!!!

Without a doubt the Food Hall will have plenty of large companies who will not be stretched in the slightest having to write wag food one large cheque, but for smaller companies it is going to cause them enormous problems. In case wag are not aware or have just forgotten, Wales is still in the midst of a recession, people are cutting back on food purchases, the season so far has been a wash-out and last weekend’s Smallholder Show could hardly be described as even a vague success, sited in the old Food Hall. But isn’t it typical of wag that their focus seemingly remains on the big boys and no thought at all to the smaller guys. If wag food had any vague hope that some of these smaller companies might in the futrue grow, then my suggestion would be to stop trying to strangle the life out of them!

I did hear rumours from a source close to the wag food department that the RWAS Food Hall was going to change this year, but as yet that’s as far as I’ve got, no more news there. Wag food have not told me their plans for altering the Food Hall. Yes of course  some food producers need to become more professional. I’ve said that so many times on welshfoodbites. I’ve complained bitterly about producers not having signage on their stand, no banners, no business cards, no leaflets etc. but I wonder why this is not one of wag’s criteria, because it really should be.

The longer this goes on, the more concerned I am that wag food have lost the plot as far as Welsh food is concerned. OK I can already hear you saying they never knew what the plot was in the first place. But things have to improve whilst we still have some producers left. I’ve no idea at all where wag are getting their advice from, if they are getting any advice at all. But I sincerely hope wag are not paying for said advice, because you are being ripped off if that’s the case.

If, or when I get any updates, I’ll pass them onto you. All I can do is offer my sympathy for those of you that have been ousted without a reasonable explanation, but if what I’m hearing happens I think some traders will change their mind about accepting the stand they have been offered. So maybe some stands will still come along at the 11th hour. I’m really sorry we are again in this situation as an industry. Selfishly I don’t care if producers that aren’t with us on our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers listing, haven’t got in, but do feel so sorry for those of our BOW that have been thrown out.


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  1. producer

    May 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I’ve not got in after being ‘allowed’ in for years.
    Yes send out your criteria but then we have to trust how Fernleigh and wag decide who is in favour this year.
    We cannot be sure how you have gone through this process and you can understand if we don’t think it is fair – sour grapes and all.
    But as wag are always saying, like many festival organisers, that we have too many applications, then why don’t they be proactive and allow the rejects to tkae an outside space still under their banner? Soory I said proactive when we are lucky if wag are reactive aren’t we?
    I know there is a farmers’ markets but that is not large and guess now is full and there are restrictions getting a stand there.
    I’m sorry expecting wag to do the job they are paid for like look after food producers of all sizes, not just the big guys.
    it’s a disgrace, total disgrace and harldy a showcase of Welsh food

  2. trader chap

    May 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Wag have been, in theory anyway, running the food hall at RWAS.
    And year after year after year the same problems arise. Wag know that the food hall is always over subscribed, but they haven’t come up with a system of allocation that appears fair to all. But that doesn’t matter to wag as it’s not their businesses suffering, is it?
    If wag’s stand allocation sytem is fair and above-board, then let us all see the list of criteria and how they have been scored. Published the scores for all to see on here, I’m sure Kath would oblige if asked nicely.
    I have no idea why wag could not have done a welsh food market outside for those they have turned down and advertise it for those of us that have been thrown out-in-the-cold.
    No producers dare say anything to anyone in charge, wag or organisers, because they are penalised, it’s like trading on an unlevel playing field and it stinks. We have a living to earn, we’ve not got the safety of a monthly salary.
    Of course producers want to go to the Royal Welsh, if they can afford the time and money to do so. You don’t need to be brainy to work that out, but you do have to have the needs of producers at heart to look at alternatives for those that can’t get into the food hall.
    I shouldn’t need to say this again, when Kath’s been saying it for years.
    Open your ears wag, do the job you are paid for, which if you need a reminder, is looking after food producers in Wales. Need any more help then ask Kath .

  3. honey

    May 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I didn’t apply as always it’s too expensive
    I liked the idea of a Welsh Produce Marekt and know Kath’s mentioned it before. Of course no-one bothers to listen, bearing in mind wag would do themselves a lot of good because it would work well and the producers would love it and it makes sound sense. As wag are full of hot air about food, why can’t they show us they care about us that cannot afford their food hall prices. Not that I’m likely to get in after the usual brown-nose selection criteria has taken place.
    None of this is amusing, it’s so frustrating that wag cannot make improvements to this event. They shout it’s a showcase of Welsh food but aren’t bothered about the large numbers of they force out.
    Typical government, pay lip service, and that’s your lot. It’s a bad way to run this department and Kath was hoping for improvements but she was wrong on that one. More of the same.

  4. trader

    May 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I get why you are going for this one, but after all these years I’d tell you to give up and stop wasting your time. Get you’re fighting for us too, but you haven’t a hope in h – – – of getting wag to understand how much they have got so wrong year after year. They are as close to clueless as you can get.
    wag are a lost cause. You also tell me you’re pining your hopes on new man making sensible changes to help us, but come on that’s not likely to happen. Wag appoint someone who’d understand us, don’t hold your breath, it will not happen. We’ll get more of the same old rubbish, just with a new voice.
    You’ll be disappointed again K. sorry but you will but
    thanks for trying to help us

  5. trader 2

    May 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I agree with last trader you are honestly wasting your time and effort – it’s hopeless for you to carry on with this, youy’ll get nowhere.
    I’d love to see a list of everyone that applied and see how SOME FACELESS PERSON judged us worthy or not, but you haven’t a wish of getting that list.
    Your welsh market idea is fantasic and workable, but that wont happen either. Wag don’t care about keeping more producers happy, allowing us to make some money in this depression we are stuck in. They can say we had too many applications and then we have selected those we want, end of story, end of their minimum effort. What a fair and honest world we try and trade in here, like not! It’s an unlevel playing field for food and always has been that way. You done sterling work rattling wag’s cage but you’ll not make progress on this one.

  6. producer

    June 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Not been on here for a while and wish that this site would bring more good news
    I’m sick of wag constantly looking after there favourites
    if this system is open and above board then publish every companies score and then we can see for ourselves why you’ve thrown Welsh companies out. Using TT awards is like rubbing salt into the open wound when that’s another area that your company face has to fit so what sense is there there?
    If you did what Kath suggests then a large tent for a Welsh Local Food found be a big help. You’ve spent a fortune on this food hall which is not up to the job which is actually a theme that runs through wag food.
    You couldn’t run a business like wag food is run you’d never have done a year’s trading.
    thanks for this info.

  7. admin

    June 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Please don’t blame me for bad news, I do cover good news when I can – see post on Y Talbot, Tregaron and then Really Wild festival – two postive posts for you of late.
    Wag don’t ask my advice they get it on this site for free. They do take some of my ideas on board but can’t be bothered to even thank me for them. I think we can agree that my face doesn’t fit with wag. But it is not my fault if they can’t take the truth. But what wag annoyingly forget is that I’m here to help our ‘BOW producers’, our ‘StayAwhile’ advertisers and our ‘Where To Eat’ premises. Ultimately to make Welsh food more accessible and more profitable. If these 3 of our food groups of advertisers are happy, than I’ll be happier than I am now. And if wag food can stop wasting money – then just maybe I can start smiling and the frown lines might just disappear. But as always I’ll not hold my breath!!!
    thanks for your viewpoint

  8. Wakey, Wakey Wag

    June 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    I know we are awaiting our new head of food, his name we are not supposed to know but thanks to Kath we do……
    BUT in the meantime are wag sleeping until his arrival or are they just ignoring the bad feeling and disbelief of producers unable to get a stand or this year have been kicked out with Fernleigh and wag using the same old excuse we are over -subscribed? What is going on there?
    Surely wag have worked out by now that the food hall is always over-subscribed, but they fail to do anything about it.
    If wag was running a business and had this scenario, wouldn’t they look at addional alternatives? Of course they would, they wouldn’t want to lose the possibility of getting more income. But in wag’s case they are unconcerned about food producers who can’t get in when it’s their job to look after us? If it’s not why are we paying them?

    Why is is down to Kath once again to come up with a suggestion which makes sense to me and many others that have talked about this idea? I’ve told her she’s silly doing wag’s work for them but she says it for her producers which is great for us but not for her and her people. Our welsh food industry is going nowhere but downwards thanks to wag not listening not reacting let alone being proactive.
    I’ve little hope that the new chap will be able to sort this lot out, especially as he’s not a Welsh civil servant
    Wish I was younger enough to do a career change

  9. trader Jo

    June 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Years on you’d think that wag would have put some thought and action into making the food hall something to be proud of. But depsite the new food hall which cost a fortune, it’s still a total mess.
    Where’s their concerned for those of us that haven’t got in? Where’s the alternative for those that have now been thrown out?
    If you have been selling in the food hall for years and suddenly wag throw you out, what does that say to your customers that come looking in the food hall for you? Do customers then think you’ve died? Or that you’ve stopped trading? Why hasn’t wag got the brains to think their actions and criteria through?
    Of course it’s ok for wag guaranteed salary at month end, no shocks for them there. It’s a case of I’m alright Jack
    Why couldn’t twag have thought of Kath’s idea of a big Welsh food marquee for those they’ve deemed not worthy of a food hall stand?
    It’s not her job to do that, but seems like wag are too busy to bother. “The food hall’s full, we’ve chosen those we want, tough luck on the rest of you that have failed our criteria”.
    Waste of space, thoughtless, clueless I could on for ever, but it will change nothing, because I think you are not capable of change.