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Archive for August, 2013

Concern Over Cost Of True Taste

23 Aug

No scheme like True Taste is likely to gain unanimous support, sour grapes always emerge. But the complaints we’ve had in over the years does concern me, hence my many questions to wag food, plus some through the Freedom Of Information Act, FOI. If you get complaints from losers, then jealously and a heavy dose of sour grapes are always then at the forefront of my mind, but my concerns heighten when winners tell me their experiences. I’d love to quote you specific examples, as I’ve got plenty I’d love to chat about, but as I haven’t got permission to do this, and in fairness haven’t asked for permission either, it wouldn’t be fair and I don’t want you and others trying to guess which companies I’m talking about.

So I’m talking generally and it is more than time the TT was changed, but only if lessons are learnt and whatever replaces it works better and fairer than True Taste, (TT) has. But do excuse me if I throw in my value-for-money here too.

A producer, who has been a regular winner to boot, has been talking to me about TT after reading welshfoodbites and discussed the cost of the TT and the breakdowns. We looked at the TT magazine for 2010-11, knowing that through FOI I’ve been told that final cost for 2010 was £792,832.89. I’ve counted 108 category winners from 87 companies/individuals. Fair enough, but then I broke down and worked out that each award was then valued at about £7,341 each. For those of us outside wag’s glass bubble, that’s a lot of money, it really is. This winner explained to me that they’d received no support after their win and that was another puzzle for me as wag state that the PR & Advertising comes in at £24,448.09 with Event Management/Staffing/ Catering/Venue totalling £648,900.21. The breakdown then shows Freshwater were paid £661,579.95, Quadrant were paid £112,001.59 and Focus PR paid £2,305.20. Well that’s a lot of PR paid for, but too many producers are telling me they got very little out of it. But why’s that? Did wag ever do a survey to find our how effective the PR people they were paying were……? Sorry that was a joke – no more surveys please!!!!

I also noticed that of the 87 winners that year, 41% of them came from SA postcode. Now if that sounds silly to you, I’ll explain my thinking further. I’ve always had a sneaky feeling that wherever the TT Awards night was held, meant that the county hosting the event and the surrounding area got a more than fair proportion of the winners, ok I’m cynical, but you know that by now. So I raised another FOI asking for a full list of all the entrants and showing the counties. Surprisingly I was told that wag food didn’t have this information, i.e. wag food didn’t write at all to the entrants. ……do you believe that? No of course not, and neither did I. So I followed wag’s procedure when you are dissatisfied with a response and predictably got nowhere, yet again, hardly a shock.

Undeterred I took the final step when you are still unhappy, which is an underestimation of quite how was feeling by then, so I went to the Information Commissioners Office. They were very efficient and helpful. I quickly got a phone call from them asking if the postcodes of all the applicants would suffice. Well of course it did. The officer also said if I needed any further help just to let her know.

My final question is why were wag food so obstructive on this matter when any idiot could have worked out, if they wished to be of assistance that is, that post codes do actually cover counties? @Here to help? No not at wag food.

In my experience, if anyone succeeds in making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s wag food. It appears their problem with me is that I ask too many questions that they’d prefer not to answer.  Well sorry wag food, asking questions is part of my job. If you worked with us and actually offered me information in the form of press releases, maybe my questions to you could be reduced, but guess that’s not likely to happen. Meanwhile I suggest you focus on pushing Welsh food and helping our Welsh food producers.

 
 

Wag Supports Halo Foods

23 Aug

The Welsh Government has offered £356,000 to Halo Food’s related to its investment in its Newport, south Wales site which will become its European Centre for snack bars. The business had considered relocating all its bar manufacturing operations to Eastern Europe and this investment is said to help it safeguard manufacturing and jobs in Wales.

Managing director Robin Williams said: “Halo Foods considered a number of options relating to its manufacturing footprint, which also included the possibility of relocating its entire bar manufacturing operation to Eastern Europe. However, with assistance from the Welsh Government, it has been able to secure its future in Newport, south Wales where a new 25-year lease has been agreed, and a significant investment will be made to upgrade the facility.”

Well it’s good news that some manufacturing and jobs have been safeguarded for Wales and that wag has still got some money left in its coffers.

 
 

Beaufort Research Assisting True Taste?

21 Aug

I was interested in the cost of work undertaken by Beaufort Research for the True Taste after receiving some anonymous information which the sender thought would be of interest to my readers. Beaufort Research has been tracking the awareness of Welsh Food & Drink, plus True Taste for the past ten years. So the easiest way was more Freedom of Information questions, which were as follows:  

Was this research put out to tender?

  1. If so how many and which companies tendered?
  2. What was the cost of this tender?

I received a supply under FOI 7509 and wag’s reply is shown in full:

  1. Yes
  2. Beaufort Research were originally via a tender process in 2003/2004 within the WDA. In 2010, Beaufort Research were given 3 year tender after mini competition. 6  companies on Lot 6 of the Food Brand Development Framework tendered – Beaufort Research; Levercliff Associates  Ltd, Promar Int, Strategic Marketing, ADAS UK Ltd, Davies Williams      Consulting
  3. Beaufort Research  were paid the following by Welsh Government:
YEAR COST
2006   – 2007 £17,895.25
2007   – 2008 £17,225
2008   – 2009 £14,940
2009   – 2010 £18,354
2010   – 2011 £27,518.50
2011   – 2012 £31,488
2012   – 2013 £32,488

The Welsh Government does not hold details of financial payments made by the Welsh Development Agency to Beaufort Research. 

Kind of them to tell me that wag cannot supply any information to me from WDA days, but I do know that. It’s just intriguing that one company can hold a tender from 2003 to 2012 and even more intriguing that their money was virtually doubled since 2006 – hope their workload for wag has doubled too. Even so what value is there in this for us? Oh silly me wag can tick another box, sorry I forgot the box ticking just for an instant.

The original item was posted on 24th July so do check out for a fuller story. Their first first set of statistics that highlight that the awareness of Welsh Food has risen by over 10% since 2003 to 2012. Great news, of course it is but then the report fails to point out that over the last six years that the awareness has remained static. All Beaufort needs to tell wag food and us is why…………………..

 
 

Cornish Ice-Cream At RWAS

19 Aug

If you’ve been following recent posts on the Royal Welsh show you’ll be aware that, as last year, I’m livid that a mobile van selling Cornish ice-cream was parked outside the Welsh food hall. Well my rant didn’t go unnoticed, as a food producer took the baton from me and raised my concerns with RWAS. This food producer didn’t attend the RWAS and their company do not make ice-cream, so there was no self-interest there. My thanks for this company helping out. They were rightly angry at this obvious lack of support for Welsh ice-cream producers and blatantly putting Cornish ice-cream in front of our Welsh visitors.

Pleased though that RWAS issued a prompt reply, which is shown below:

  • The ice-cream contacts go out to tender which is split into two halves; each half awarded 7 unit positions. We circulate to all companies that request tenders with a number being from Wales.
  • As we have been very happy with Real Dairy Ice Cream Company Ltd over the years we awarded a three year contract. This current contract predates the opening of the new food hall. The contract was for seven units and included the site in question.
  • After a complaint last year, we had discussions with the company who agreed to sell Welsh ice-cream from an unbranded unit as the site was still under contract. Unfortunately there was a technical problem with this unit so a branded unit had to be used but with a sign stating that the ice cream being supplied was from Franks Ice Cream Ammanford. 

As you can see from the above we have tried as best we can with a contract in place to remedy the situation.

I have to take on board what RWAS are saying, but what are RWAS’ priorities? Selling these ice-cream pitches to the highest bidder or supporting Welsh food producers? Can anyone guess the answer? I appreciate that RWAS went out to tender, but it would be interesting to know how many companies were told about the tender and how many tenders were received from UK and from Wales. I don’t mind quite as much if ice-cream vans are scattered about the show ground and they’re not Welsh. In my world of course they would be, but I’m trying to be realistic here and my annoyance is with the mobile van outside the food hall. My main objection and I will not accept excuses as to why this cannot happen, the ice-cream van outside the food hall not only should be selling ice cream from Wales, but it should be as clear as crystal that this mobile van is Welsh – not Cornish. My other question is why no-one at RWAS ever thought, before issuing their tender that only an ice cream van from Wales should be outside the food hall. This pitch should have been excluded from their tender and a Welsh ice cream producer should be awarded that slot. I believe this is not just basic commonsense it’s supporting Welsh producers at a Welsh show – easy peasy in my book. 

I think that this three year tender should be up for renewal for next year and I urge RWAS to not allow the food hall site to be included in the tender. This site must be allowed to go to a Welsh ice cream producer.  As the Royal Welsh Show you should be proud to shout that you are fully supporting Welsh producers and that means the ice cream guys too.

I don’t believe you’ll have an excuse not to put Welsh producers first next year, so please don’t let me down again and just try harder to get these things right.     

 
 

True Taste – The True Cost?

19 Aug

The abandonment of True Taste this year has caused outrage amongst some producers, whilst others are grateful it has been kicked into touch, providing wag replace it with something more appropriate and worthwhile. A few of you have queried me about the cost of True Taste, you obviously think I’m privy to wag food’s workings and budgets, with an inside hot-line to them, but I can assure you that couldn’t be further from the truth.

So happy to do your bidding, but of course I was interested too. I asked under Freedom Of Information Act for breakdown of costs from 2006. Well here they are and I’m really not sure how you’ll feel about how our money has been spent or squandered, depending on your take on True Taste.

Looking at these figures, the budget for this event seems very flexible let’s say, over the years. In 2006 total spend about £413k, rising to £825k in 2011 and then £600k last year. But then none of us knows or understands wag’s budgets.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m not entirely happy with these figures. I’m wondering where the cost of True Taste logo change is, and where a food PR company, that many of you will be aware of, aren’t shown at all. Another part that concerns me was to be told in writing that: Press Office officials wish to highlight that the respondent has been publishing Welsh Government responses to her FOI requests on her blog http://www.welshfoodbites.co.uk and to be mindful of this issue.

As I see it, press and publicity implications’ shouldn’t be detached from the truth and I understood that FOIs should give me that as a questioner, regardless if I’m a journalist or a member of the Welsh public. I did query if Ministers are told if a question is from the Welsh public? That’s if their questions and responses are ever seen by Ministers. Or is it just press that Ministers are ‘warned’ about? Or perhaps it’s just Welsh Country magazine that gets this special treatment, who knows? Not sure I’ll not find out though. I just feel that by highlighting this is a press question I might not be getting the full picture. There should only be one answer regardless of who is asking the question.

Budgets are still set for April, so I wanted to know how much money was allocated for TT in 2013? The Minister’s announcement informing us that TT was not going ahead in 2013, came to us in July. So what happened to the £600k+ set aside for TT? Has is disappeared into another budget, or was it never allocated in the first place? If the latter is the case, it would have been thoughtful and helpful of the Minister to have informed us in Jan – April. It would have stopped producers worrying and they could have focused on Great Taste Awards and not wasted so much time and effort trying to find out what was happening about True Taste.

So I’ve asked these questions and await as to what happens next…….

Year 2006 / 7  
   
PR & Advertising £     56,227.11
Event Management / Staffing / Catering / Venue / Awards £   181,765.03
Judging £     93,671.90
Print / Publications / Design £     80,558.73
TOTAL £   412,222.77
   
   
   
Suppliers  
   
Supplier Name  
Apicus Communications £     83,642.58
Daloni Metcalfe £       1,849.20
Delyth Davies  £          316.24
Enfys Ltd £          376.00
Escape T Design  £     70,230.31
Ethos Photos  £     11,903.34
Fernleigh Design  £          517.00
Frank Rozelaar-Green  £          250.00
Future Inns Cardiff  £       7,204.00
Glamorgan County Cricket Club £     43,093.13
Guild Of Fine Food  £       8,812.50
Hilton Cardiff  £       1,270.00
Howel Food Consultancy CYF £       7,646.66
Hywel James  £        1,300.00
ITV £      13,558.33
Jane Beebe £      16,236.15
Mainline Coach Operators  £           800.00
Media Wales Ltd £        3,760.00
Ontrac Marketing Services Ltd £      10,819.99
Phil Boorman Photography £        1,982.64
Pronutpia £             59.95
Quadrant Media & Communications Ltd £      68,991.34
Quadrant Media Training Ltd £      11,470.94
ST Davids Hotel & Spa  £        8,722.00
Stage Lighting Services  £     20,920.88
Tipyn Bach Chocolate Company  £          117.40
Welsh Whiskey Company Ltd  £          156.89
William Reed Publications Ltd £     16,210.30
Total £  412,222.77
   
Year 2007 / 8  
   
   
PR & Advertising £     61,912.01
Event Management / Staffing / Catering / Venue / Awards £   261,288.37
Judging £   119,436.26
Print / Publications / Design £     91,623.01
TOTAL £   534,259.65
   
   
Suppliers  
   
Supplier Name Amount Paid
Clasur (Gerald Murphy) £     27,020.30
Creative Food Ltd £       3,008.92
Daloni Metcalfe £       1,871.10
Escape to Design Ltd £     95,553.39
Ethos Photography £     17,248.07
Future Inns £       8,608.00
Glamorgan County Cricket Club £     45,084.75
Gordon Grey Toastmaster £           200.00
Guild of Fine Food Ltd £   116,319.63
Howel Food Consultancy £        4,523.75
Hywel James £           763.75
Ice 2 Art £        3,995.00
ITV £      15,447.82
Jane Beebe £      20,021.98
Mainline Coaches £        1,300.00
Ontrac Marketing Services £        1,820.00
Park Plaza Hotel £        7,352.50
Phil Boorman £        8,817.20
Quadrant Media & Communications Ltd £    123,604.79
Sian Roberts £        4,144.95
Stage Lighting Services £      22,736.25
Tabledressers £        4,817.50
   £   534,259.65
   
Year 2008 / 9  
   
PR & Advertising £     28,925.00
Event Management / Staffing / Catering / Venue / Awards £   302,133.22
Judging £     79,258.67
Print / Publications / Design £     16,459.24
TOTAL £   426,776.13
   
   
Suppliers  
   
Supplier Name Amount Paid
Quadrant £    342,183.28
The Vale Hotel £        1,792.80
McCullough Moore £      77,821.58
Y Pair Laith £        4,978.47
Total £   426,776.13
   
Year 2009 / 10  
   
Stratamatrix £    633,919.64
Focus PR £      17,071.93
Freshwater £      10,659.88
Total £    661,651.45
   
   
There is no breakdown of costs for this year, and it would not   be feasible to go into every individual invoice in the time allowed  
   
Year 2010 / 11  
   
PR & Advertising £     24,448.09
Event Management / Staffing / Catering / Venue / Awards £   648,900.21
Judging £   112,001.59
Print / Publications / Design £       7,483.00
TOTAL £   792,832.89
   
   
Suppliers  
   
Supplier Name Amount Paid
Freshwater £   661,579.95
Quadrant £   112,001.59
Focus PR £       2,305.20
Davies Williams Consulting £       4,947.50
Huw Jones Photography £     11,998.65
Total £   792,832.89
   
Year 2011 / 12  
   
PR & Advertising £     67,659.27
Event Management / Staffing / Catering / Venue / Awards £   591,382.40
Judging £     93,701.60
Print / Publications / Design £     71,739.72
TOTAL £   824,482.99
   
   
Suppliers  
   
Supplier Name Amount Paid
Freshwater £   712,629.32
Quadrant £      93,701.60
Ethos Photos £        9,002.07
Davies Williams Consulting £        4,950.00
Four BGB £        4,200.00
Total £   824,482.99
   
Year 2012 / 13  
   
PR & Advertising £        6,208.56
Event Management / Staffing / Catering / Venue / Awards £   453,008.55
Judging £     99,224.40
Print / Publications / Design £     40,887.85
TOTAL £   599,329.36
   
   
Suppliers  
   
Supplier Name Amount Paid
Freshwater £   457,540.40
Quadrant £   114,524.70
Stephens & George Ltd £     21,055.70
Ethos Photos £       6,208.56
Total £   599,329.36

 

 

 
 

Support Our Welsh Ice-Cream Makers

09 Aug

For those of you that have read my post on this year’s RWAS, you will know how annoyed I am with them and wag food for the second year running. I posted last year how furious I was when I was walking towards the Food Hall, the first thing that caught my eye was a Cornish mobile ice-cream van parked just outside the Food Hall. Yes, the Food Hall that supports our Welsh food producers!

No-one in power seemingly thought having a Cornish mobile van there was wrong. Why they didn’t is totally beyond my thinking. I would have thought that at the Royal Welsh Show, the clue was in their title, Welsh. Whoever took that decision didn’t think that it was wrong, detrimental to Welsh food, or more importantly, a slap in the face to our Welsh ice-cream makers – of which we have a fair number, all producing ice-cream, that in my view, is superb quality. This year it was clear as crystal that I’ve been ignored again, because that same Cornish company was back in prime spot once again. This is just one of several mobile vans the company have at the RWAS. I don’t care too much where this company makes its ice-cream, it is the fact that a van clearly displaying that it is selling Cornish ice-cream gets the top slot outside the Welsh Food Hall. There wasn’t even a Welsh ice-cream maker on the front row of the Food Hall this year, so is that fair? No it isn’t.

Well, true to form, I had my normal rant, because I find RWAS and wag food are simply being thoughtless over this issue. RWAS, I guess don’t care who takes that pitch as long as they pay top dollar, and if this company is paying for three mobile vans, then maybe it gives that company a little more power to negotiate with RWAS. If so, it’s a power that wag food doesn’t seem to have with RWAS, does it? But talking about wag food, they are quite another matter because their role is surely to improve the lot of Welsh food producers, if it isn’t, then why do we have a food department and pay all these civil servants to work there?

I have asked who decides which food producers are allocated stands in the Food Hall and was told it was wag food and RWAS. That still confuses me, as I understood wag food paid RWAS for the Food Hall so what business is it of RWAS’ which food producers get accepted? Do RWAS decide with say the Welsh Craft Council, who is allowed to have a stand space when they have paid for it?

I’m surprise and disappointed that the Minister, who did pay at least two visits to the Food Hall, didn’t notice the Cornish ice-cream makers outside the Food Hall. But why didn’t it concern him?

Well guys, you’ll be relieved to hear that I’m not going solo on my quest to get Welsh ice-cream makers pride of place at events in Wales. One of our longstanding and brilliantly vocal supporters, was watching a TV report on the Eisteddfod this week and spotted the same Cornish mobile ice-cream van. Well it would have been hard to miss as the BBC ‘kindly’ put their reporter outside this ice-cream van to do a news piece to camera. So it is not only RWAS and wag food that don’t get this issue, it’s the BBC too. But I said this supporter was vocal and not one to just moan at the TV, instead made contact with the BBC saying: How disappointing to see a Cornish ice-cream trader in the background while filming your reporter at the Eisteddfod – you obviously hadn’t put much thought into the scene. Surely there were Welsh traders that you could have used. Very disappointing indeed.

The good news was a prompt response was received:

Feedback Summary – advertising  Cornish ice-cream 

Feedback Description – We were sorry to hear that you were unhappy a Cornish ice-cream trader could be seen in the background within our content from the Eisteddfod. Please be assured that we have brought your complaint to the attention of the editorial team and our senior BBC Wales News management.

Whether it’s positive or negative, audience feedback is very valuable to us and helps us make decisions about future editorial decisions. I would therefore like to assure you that I have also registered your complaint on our internal report of audience feedback, which we compile for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC and their senior management. It ensures that details of your complaint are available for consideration across the BBC.

The fate of Welsh food will not improve unless people-in-power, the decision makers, THINK AND PUT WELSH FOOD PRODUCERS FIRST.

How that happens though is anyone’s guess but sure welshfoodbites is helping and at least it gives our food producers a voice – all we want now is the decision makers top listen……………………………….  

 
 

Monitoring & Evaluation Of Food Festivals 2013-14

08 Aug

As you are all more than well aware,  I’m not at all happy with a further evaluation of food festivals. Something to do with the fact that we are still waiting for Miller Research’s offering on last year’s festivals. I’ve been chasing for this report, but apparently it will be available of wag’s website at the end of this month, although initially I was told June.

Obviously we are not privy as to when wag received Miller’s words of wisdom. However if this report was going to be of assistance to wag this year to decide their latest criteria, you’d have hoped wag would have been pondering over it early this year, wouldn’t you? If that didn’t happen, just what is the point of spending with Miller, so I understand £43k?

Anyway still concerned about this, I asked questions under the Freedom Of Information Act on 2nd July. Questions were as follows:

When was the 2013 – 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation of Food Festivals Supported by the Welsh Government put out for tender?

  1. Which companies submitted tender applications?
  2. When was the tender awarded?
  3. What is the completion date for this tender?
  4. What is the Welsh Government paying the two successful companies for completing this tender?
  5. When will the review be published and available to the press and public?
  6. The 2013-2014 Monitoring & Evaluation of Food Festivals Supported by the Welsh Government, was this put out to open tender or from framework?

Although I’ve not had an acknowledgement, today I received a hard copy response. Puzzling why and emailed FOI warrants a hard copy response dated simply August 2013, but there we are – wag rules. Anyway their words of wisdom are shown in full:

1. The tender was issued on 30th June 2013.

2. Two companies submitted tenders for the work, Miller Research and CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies).

3. The tender was awarded on the 19th June.

4. The successful company is expected to submit a final report by 7th March 2014.

5. CLES were the appointed company, Wavehill are approved contractors carrying out some of the work in partnership with CLES. The tender value was £27,800+vat.

6. It isn’t possible to give an accurate date, however we would anticipate that the report would be released Spring 2014 for publication.

7. The tender was issued to companies on the Welsh Government Research and Evaluation Framework Lot 4 – Programme /Project Evaluation.   

So this response still raises further concerns. I’m wondering how wag issued this tender on 30th June but then awarded this same tender on 19th June. How can this be? We all know that wag ‘works’ slowly, but to award a tender before it’s actually been issued is certainly beyond them isn’t it?

The other cause for concern is the cost of these tenders and the wastage in my view of public money. Last year for evaluating about the same number of festivals, Miller got £43k. I’ve not got their report so cannot comment on its contents, but at least they did attend the festivals, so in theory, should have had a good idea of what was going on. This year, CLES with Wavehill are doing this work for £27,800, but the price difference is because these two companies are apparently doing their evaluation by phone along with feedback forms, plus organisers input. Well I know of far too many festivals that are ignoring wag’s stated criteria, but if some organisers are good at ticking wag’s precious boxes, how is this evaluation going to be worth anything? To me it seems silly and we need a system that will work and give us better, more profitable food festivals next year.

Now before any of you ask me why I keep bothering to try and get wag food to see sense, it’s quite simple. For many of our Best of Welsh & Border producers, festival and markets are a vital selling–tool for them, but neither of these sectors is really working well. The wag food festival budget was cut again this year, so it is even more vital that this budget gives value-for money, yet it  doesn’t.

If only wag food could learn some lessons……….              

 

 

 
 

Further Worry For Farmbox Meats Creditors

08 Aug

Creditors of a mid-Wales meat company which entered administration after being implicated in the horsemeat scandal are facing further worry over how much cash they are likely to recover.

A new report published by the joint administrators of Farmbox Meats Ltd said invoice finance provider Bibby Financial Services was owed £206,000 at the date of their appointment in June and it is “not yet certain” whether the lender will be repaid in full. Unsecured creditors are “unlikely” to recover any money owed to them although the total amount is still unknown as a statement of affairs document has not yet been provided by Farmbox Meats’ director.

In February, work at Farmbox Meats in Llandre was suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as part of an inquiry into alleged mislabelling of meat products. In March the FSA lifted the suspension and the business was allowed to operate under conditional approval. But in April, approval to operate was refused by the FSA over hygiene standards, which the company disputed. In June insolvency administrators were then appointed to the company.

A report from the administrators shows that in its first year of trading,  Farmbox Meats made a pre-tax profit of £95,000 on a turnover of £2.1m. Management accounts suggest the turnover figure jumped to £5m in the second year.

 
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Struggling To Understand Wag & RWAS’ Input Into Food Hall

02 Aug

RWAS Food Hall always raises complaints, comments, moans and groans. It take up a great deal of our time and really is proving fruitless. So my final ploy was to send in a variety of questions, raised by you, our Best Of Welsh & Border producers. Here they are:

1. I am told that it is wag who decides which stands get into the Food Hall. So who in wag is responsible for this selection?

2. Who then decides where stands are then sited?  Fernleigh say it is not them as do RWAS, so who is/are the decision makers for RWAS?

3. Why, when some stands were sited in a sensible slot last year, are they then moved to the bottom of the Food Hall?

4. Was it RWAS that thought it sensible for a Cornish mobile ice-cream van to be sited once again this year outside the Food Hall? Did anyone in power not think it stupid to highlight a Cornish mobile van outside the Food Hall? I’m told this van was so busy again this year, being in such a prime spot, that they didn’t use a cash box simply threw all their takings in a plastic bin!

5. Can you confirm that Cywain Agri, a Menter a Busnes scheme I think, which was sited at the bottom of the Food Hall, did wag offer them a free stand?

6. If that is correct, who authorised that free stand and why would anyone think that fair?

7. Why was Alun Davies taken to Cywain Agri stand on Monday? I saw him there, but did he then tour then remaining immediate stands, let alone the other 49 stands?

8. I understand one stand was Cywain Fisheries/Channel Fisheries – a huge wholesaling business from Devon but have opened an outlet in Cardiff – Fish at 85, who don’t answer their telephone, but have been heavily funded by wag but not sufficient to pay for staff to take phone calls. So does one outlet in Cardiff qualify that company under wag rules for a stand, despite wag throwing out Welsh prime producers. Is that correct? Does it really give visitors in the Food Hall a good impression of Welsh food when they see a sign for CHANNEL Fisheries, it’s an obscure message for wag to send out.

9. Were Cywain Fisheries also given a free stand by wag? Then were they allowed to offer it to a separate company each day to also exhibit free of charge?

10. Are wag looking now purely for larger companies even if their main core business is not based in Wales?

11. Apparently one question on RWAS food hall form was about why you want to come into the Food Hall and when one company said honestly to make-money, they weren’t accepted. So producers now have to learn how to be more clever/subtle in filling in wag forms, telling wag what they want to hear which seemingly Cywain Fisheries did perfectly!

A Welsh Government spokesperson responded as follows:

  • Decisions  on   which stands  featured in  the Food Hall at this year’s  Royal Welsh Show  were  taken by the Welsh Government and RWAS
  • Positioning  of the stands within the Food Hall was decided by RWAS and Fernleigh.     
  • The positioning of the ice cream van on the Showground was decided by RWAS.
  • No  food producers in the Food Hall were given a stand free of charge.
  • The Minister visited the Cywain Agri Stand after accepting an  invitation to launch the Welsh Fish campaign. He then had limited  time to visit other stands before attending his next engagement.
  • The  Welsh Government’s policy is to fund those eligible food producers who are looking to grow their businesses.
  • All  food producers have to apply for space at the Food Hall and have to complete a universal form. These forms are duly assessed and a selection is made.

I’m fed-up of going around in endless circles, but in one of my many pointless efforts to get to the truth, I’ve gone back again to ask why, if wag are paying for the Food Hall, then what has that to do with RWAS as to which companies go in there? Why should RWAS have any input in the allocation and positioning of stands?  

As for the positioning of a Cornish ice cream van outside the Food Hall, I can only sum up RWAS as clueless and thoughtless. How can RWAS not think about Welsh producers/farmers first, or that any Welsh ice-cream producers have a mobile van? There again if Cornish ice-cream are paying RWAS for at least three mobile guess that RWAS can still count the money in their coffers. But even more irritating, is why wag are so passive as to allow this to happen for two years running? Wag Food department what is your purpose? No answers on a postcard or by email either as I know just what you’ll say on this: Welsh producers and Welsh farmers first!

My information on some stands getting in free was from a good source otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered raising the question in the first place otherwise. But as wag’s answer, I’m really not sure. Then there was another Best of Welsh Producer on the ball on RAWS Food Hall post, which shows how much it means to many of them. I’m told ‘no food producers were given a free stand’ which some of us now think it means that co-ops/menter a busnes schemes, who are certainly not primary producers themselves, might still just have had a freebie stand. Isn’t it sad that we have lost so much trust?

Well folks, it’s clear Welsh Country magazine and welshfoodbites are not supporting and promoting Welsh food, even after over eight years of trading!! For some reason I know nothing about a Welsh Fish Campaign. I certainly didn’t find a press release in RWAS Press Room, nor have I been sent one from wag, so it seems like it’s another wag food secret. It’s not much of a campaign apart from wag funding more fishery companies, whose faces fit. The Minister seems to visit visits stands that wag’s put money into, so more mutual back-patting, but no-one in wag appears to think how other producers view this, or seems not many care either.

It’s a good job we do.

The Welsh Government’s policy is to fund those eligible food producers who are looking to grow their businesses. Fine now, all our Best Of Welsh & Border producers can be told how to fill in their future applications to stand a chance of being accepted.

All food producers have to apply for space at the food hall and have to complete a universal form. These forms are duly assessed and a selection is made. But that doesn’t explain why RWAS have such an input into selection when wag are paying heavily for the Food Hall? Who’s in charge in this selection process wag, or RWAS. I didn’t realise that RWAS were experts on Welsh food producers so can I have the names of people involved in this important selection on all sides please?

I’ve just had a sensible and practical suggestion from one of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers with the idea that producers are only allowed in every two or three years if the Food Hall is so oversubscribed. Maybe that’s a way of giving more producers a fairer crack of the whip. Otherwise I still think that wag should fund a tent as a Welsh Market and allow genuine professional producers that are ‘barred’ from the Food Hall an alternative. As their only other options are the Farmers’ Market – if they qualify – or Glamorgan Hall. I’m sure though that nothing will improve and nothing will change with this sort of attitude.

 
 

It Doesn’t Appear That HCC Are Supporting Farmers’ Markets

01 Aug

On 31st July I posted the question: ‘Are HCC Supporting Farmers Markets?

HCC, Hybu Cig Cymru, assures us that they are supporting farmers’ markets, but that is not what we are hearing. So puzzled by yet another stand-off, we emailed 60 Farmers’ Markets, asking them that simple question. The feedback, I can only describe as startling. I was pleasantly surprised that any market organiser would have time to email us back, bearing in mind that many market organisers are volunteers, but some have and this is where it stands to date:

60 emails sent.

23 responses received.

1 market was pleased with the support received from HCC

1 market was undecided how to respond and ‘was thinking about it……………………….

21 said that they’d had no support at all from HCC, OR didn’t know who HCC were!

Well if I was HCC I’d be having a re-think about their stance on farmers’ markets. Actually markets was one of the three sectors Fork2Fork were supposed to target, so one would assume those two parties at least had some dialogue, even if apparently there wasn’t much action to follow in their two year programme.

As HCC I’d also think more carefully about what was  published in their official booklets.

It’s honesty, not spin, that is the best policy, especially when backed up with facts and figures.