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.


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  1. Producer2

    August 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    From feedback I have got over the last few days, those food producers in Glamorgan Hall did better than in the Food Hall. I did not attend this year (too expensive!), but I intend to write to RWAS and ask for a Welsh ice cream van instead of the Cornish one, and ask if the Cornish one was just down to who pays the most. If this is so, it makes a nonscence of grants from WAG, which are there after all, to help a business grow.

  2. admin

    August 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Please let me know what the response is from RWAS – should you get one
    be keen to known RWAS’s view on supporting Welsh food producers bearing in mind we have some Welsh farmers making excellent ice-cream with mobile vans so why stick a Cornish one there in pride of place?

  3. producer

    August 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

    The Food Hall has always, always caused producers problems. It’s the same year after year.
    Producers are stuck between wag, Rwas and Fernleigh and none of them have got the producers interest at heart.
    A lottery if you get in the first place. Expensive stand fees, no say in where your stand is, at the top one year the bottom the next. Many restrictions on what we can do when we are there. People wanting to feed their kids on samples and no interest in buying. It really is not worth it now for many of us. It’s not a real showcase of Welsh food which is what it should be in this expensive hall.
    Why do Rwas have a say in who goes in? If they had an interest in Welsh food there would be a Cornish ice-cream van at the front of the Food Hall. It shows how money grabbing Rwas are, that space no doubt went to the highest bidder. People must have thought it stupid at the Royal WELSH show that Cornish ice-cream can park outside the WELSH Food Hall. Don’t wag pay a lot for the food hall at this show and the Winter Fair? Trying to be polite, idiotic is my opinion. Can’t leave my opinion on wag and RAWS, you wouldn’t allow it to stay up on here.
    Glamorgan Hall might be worth a try for me next year.
    Wag should be working for us but they just tick their boxes.
    Why no Welsh Market tent somewhere at cheaper prices than FH?

  4. trader

    August 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

    The comments left I totally agree with.
    Amazing how wag food can all take their salaries but none of them are bothered that a Cornish ice-cream van is outside the Food Hall AGAIN this year. That’s a scandal.
    Kath I know highlighted this last year, but neither wag food nor RWAS can work out, even for the themselves, how stupid this is. Of course we have Welsh ice-cream makers with mobile vans, use one of them for goodness sake. But should there not be one of them willing to pay RWAS’s high prices then just don’t allow this Cornish trader to park one of his vans here. Instead give some Welsh ice-cream guys the front slots in the Food Hall.
    Like Kath, I called into the FH and struggled to find Cowpots stuck this year at the bottom, but they were front row last year.
    Can no-one in power, the Minister maybe, make a sensible decision about the Food Hall and sort out RWAS?
    Don’t seem like they can.
    Well done for highlighting this shambles again. If only wag would listen to your free, sensible advice, we’d see improvements instead of the same trash year on year.

  5. admin

    August 6, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for leaving a comment and giving us your views.
    I’ve given wag food free advice on welshfoodbites for three years but they haven’t told me yet that they appreciate it!
    Not sure why.
    Seriously it is a pity that wag can’t take welshfoodbites on board, life as you say would be easier. I think that wag forget my views come from my experiences at food festivals and markets but more importantly in talking AND listening to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers. Our producers and frames come to that, are at the sharp end and it’s obvious to me that wag should be listening to them. Why it’s not obvious to wag yet is anyone’s guess!
    Having said that, there’s no trust between the two parties, which is down to wag’s past record. But that’s where we are now.
    I’m not sure what will happen next, what else I can do to help our producers, but maybe new guy will be the breath of fresh air that Welsh food so urgently needs.

  6. admin

    August 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    With many producers unhappy it’s wag food that’s out of step. They have no idea what we want and need. They can’t talk to us but as previous comment said, we’ve no trust in them.
    They can have as many food panels as they wish, which they’d do anyway as they run this food fiasco, but how many micro producers are there on them?
    Maybe a token one I would imagine.
    Kath I’d give up if I were you. You are talking to people that appear to be hard of hearing and out of touch

  7. trader boy

    August 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I cannot understand how wag food and hcc can continue playing ostrich whilst the minister just keeps patting them on the back.
    hcc, their focus is exports, supermarkets and PGI
    wag food, I’ve no idea what their focus is apart from supermarkets and surveys, but I know it isn’t smaller producers, festival or markets.
    cheers Kath for your efforts but we must agree that you are kidding yourself if you think wag and hcc will ever listen to your common sense.
    are you at Cardigan this Sat?

  8. admin

    August 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

    grateful for your feedback
    understand where you are coming from but if the minister is happy with wag food and hcc and let’s be fair we’d be the last people in Wales to know otherwise!
    It’s disappointing not to make much progress but that’s no reason to stop when our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers tell me their issues.
    No, not at Cardigan and I’ve not had a press release, so no idea who’s there, the festival are no advertising with us – no budget seemingly. So no need to attend. Plus heard too many bad comments already without having to face it there on the day!!!
    Hope you have a good day

  9. trader

    August 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Disguise the truth, or just not be clear on how stands are selected that is how it is here.
    It’s always been the same. If your face fits with wag food AND rwas AND fernleigh which is not easy, but if that is the case, you’re then ok.
    Otherwise the rest of us can keep applying, if we can afford it and just hope.
    I liked your idea of a Welsh market tent for food producers that don’t fit in the food hall, but you haven’t a hope of it happening. Wag food would have to say this food hall system is not fair and doesn’t work. They cannot possibly admit that, it’s a pipe dream of yours.

  10. andy

    August 8, 2013 at 8:30 am

    The Cornish ice-cream seller was again selling at the Eisteddfod??? I’ve sent a complaint to the BBC as they had their reporter on the evening news giving his report standing in front of them.

  11. admin

    August 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Some-one please give me strength. As it RWAS and Wag food working against our Welsh ice cream producers and in effect Welsh producers now the Eisteddfod. Of all organisations/quangos I would certainly have expected the Eisteddfod to back all Welsh producers to the hilt.
    I’m at a loss to understand why the powers-that-be in Wales cannot get fully behind our producers.
    As for the BBC, you do have to wonder if the producer of that programme had a clue of what was happening. Why would anyone put a reporter in front of a Cornish ice-cream van?
    There is however no doubt that this Cornish ice-cream company have their feet firmly under our Welsh table and many people seem to be welcoming them whilst kicking our own guys in this tough economic climate. How can that be fair, look after your own is surely a good start.

  12. Andy

    August 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Regarding the Eisteddfod I had a meeting with Elfed Roberts [CEO] some years ago when it was held in Swansea. We were pushing for them to promote Welsh produce in whatever part of Wales they were holding the event. We did eventually, with the help of the council have a marquee set up and local traders were able to set up. Amazingly, Elfed said at the time that it was something they hadn’t considered doing and in his words were still using the greasy hot dog vans. Last year I made contact with the Urdd to see if they would consider the same but came up against a brick wall. Totally ignored, but we’ll get there in the end Kath. Keep up the good work.

  13. admin

    August 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I cannot believe your comment but the truth is I don’t want to believe it. I would have thought the Eisteddfod would have been one of the first organisations that would have pushed for anything Welsh, why aren’t they? More to the point why aren’t wag food doing just that?
    After all these years we shouldn’t still be hitting these brick walls, it’s frustrating, exhausting and annoying

    Thanks for your views, always welcomed and always sensible.