Archive for September, 2013

The Aptly Named ‘Deli Delights’ in St Dogmaels

30 Sep

Deli Delights did just that delighted us all!

The move from Cardigan to 28 High Street, St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire was a smart one for Deli Delights, as there is now room for a tea room. The shop & tea room is owned by Tim and Mandy Wilcox, but it is Mandy who is the person doing all the hard work – and boy, does she work hard!!

Ian and I caught up with some friends of ours on Saturday afternoon, but let me put this politely, after a very disappointing coffee elsewhere in St Dogmaels. Unhappy, we decided we’d call in on Deli Delights but just why the four of us didn’t meet up there initially, makes no sense at all!!!

As always we got a lovely warm welcome from Mandy, which is how she greets everyone I might add. A cafetière of her delicious Java coffee and a pot of tea for two, gave us time to decide we were hungry and select some foodie snacks. From a tasty bacon buttie, served on a wooden board, to two tasty paninis and a ploughman’s, everything was packed full of flavour and beautifully presented. Deli Delights support her local Welsh food producers wherever possible, but Mandy also has a wide ranging selection of National and International produce, including unusual Spanish Serrano ham, salami, chorizo’s and Greek marinated olives.

As if Mandy wasn’t busy enough, she somehow finds time to do outside catering, tel: 01239 621002 for more details. But another thought I must share with you is that if you have to buy a gift for a hard-to-buy for person, why not consider a food hamper or food basket? With Mandy there to guide you, I’m sure you find that’s a gift that will be much appreciated by anyone who loves excellent food.

So if you’re in the area, please call in and enjoy the delightful Deli Delights!!!!!


Changes to Develop The Welsh Food Sector

25 Sep

A Best Of Welsh & Borders producer kindly gave us the nod that the Minister, Alun Davies was presenting a statement on Tuesday. We chased the press office and they promised to send the statement when it was officially released. True to their word they did just that – they were very helpful, so much so Ian rang to thank them and then we sent an official email through with praise for the Press Team member for doing a great job. This is a system we’ve used for years and I dubbed it ‘Brickbats & Bouquets’ we purposely use both but sadly it is more brickbats than bouquets!!!!

All our Best Of Welsh & Borders, (BOW), producers were sent the précis of the Statement from the Minister of Rural Resources yesterday and today they’ve been sent the full statement. I know some of them will think it is more hot air and I’d be the last to disagree with them, BUT if producers want changes made then you can hardly expect the government and civil servants to know what they are unless you tell them. Ok I can hear you muttering that you don’t wish to stick your head above the parapet but if that’s your view accept that things will stay much the same or get even worse, or if you are with us on BOW, pass your views to me or the team, and I’ll send them through on your behalf.  

Ian and I actually watched the debate on our computers and have a few comments  which may give a little more depth in certain areas.

Not included in the written statement was a comment from the Minister was that he wanted to support Welsh companies and not others by a circuitous route, which we interpreted that there will be changes in Food Festival funding, but who knows? This year the criteria for funding is for 75% Welsh Food stands but on a number of occasions has not been met. At Abergavenny last weekend they had less than 50% Welsh Food stands. We’ve raised this 75% minimum with wag but wherever that is even acknowledged remains to be seen.  

There was little discussion and twice the Minister commented that both the Conservative and Liberal Food Spokespersons did not put up any objections, which the Minister seemingly took as their approval. Maybe it could be the case that after having reread the statement that there is little substance to argue or discuss. I can only hope that the promises of wider industry discussion and consultation is upheld and micro and smaller businesses are not again excluded with wag using only their supportive companies and the usual loyal faces. We’ll keep you informed as and when we hear any further news.

The majority of comments from the floor, were about Food Festivals with concerns about their sustainability and that festivals should not be put out to grass.

Statement By The Welsh Government

Title: Developing the Food Sector in Wales    

Date: 24th September 2013    

By: Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

In July I gave Members an assurance that I would make a statement immediately on our return from recess to outline how I intend to take forward the development of support for the food industry. Today I want to share my thinking and to outline a timescale within which I will make my proposals for growth throughout our food industry.

Wales is one of the best performing countries within the European food retail market with over six percent growth in food and drink sales last year.  Agriculture, fishing and food manufacturing combined have an annual turnover in excess of £5.2 billion.  The story is a good one but there’s more that can be done.

My vision is that by 2020 the quality of Welsh food will enjoy increased international recognition,   food businesses will be more efficient and environmentally balanced with supply chains more integrated and will be adding far more value to our products here in Wales. Consumers will be making well informed choices about the affordable and healthy food they need, leading to significant improvement in public health.  My proposal is to deliver this growth through market development, job creation, increased sales turnover and improved GVA for Wales.  Our food sector has many advantages including high quality raw materials and natural grass-based farming systems.  But there are weaknesses, including the need to develop the domestic market, and to have a more integrated supply chain which both adds value and increases the contribution of this sector  to the wider Welsh economy.   

I see an urgent need to establish a Welsh Food and Drink Forum or Federation of people drawn from across the industry to provide strong leadership, vision and much closer working between government and business. 

My strategy will consist of targeted actions to deliver sustainable jobs and growth for Wales that are both economically and environmentally sound.  I propose building the strategy across seven key areas, allowing Wales the opportunity to position itself as a leader in the field.

Firstly I want to promote market development and growth. Both the domestic and export markets have scope for more development.  Better market information will be needed to identify the best opportunities for business and to make the right choices. 

Before the summer recess I outlined my plans for the future branding of food and drink from Wales.  This will need to serve domestic and export market needs as well as being vibrant enough to attract inward investment.  

We tested the ‘Food and Drink Wales’ identity this year with a clear Welsh identity which has been well received by the trade. The consultation will be asking for views on further development of the new identity as well as how to strengthen and sustain it.

Export markets are rewarding but challenging.  Establishing product recognition in new and competitive markets is not easy. Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef enjoy the prestige associated with the EU’s Protected Food Name designation, and other products can follow a similar route. New markets including Russia and China are showing keen interest in Welsh Lamb and we will focus our effort on securing export health certification to open the door.  

We must work much more closely with the largest food and drink businesses in Wales to understand their intentions and the potential for growth.SMEs and micro-businesses dominate our food sector and are important at local, national and international levels. Their speciality products enhance Wales’  reputation for quality food. We propose to improve awareness of the business support available to encourage growth. Foreign Direct Investment is an area where I want to make Wales the first choice for international food companies to locate their manufacturing and value added processing. 

The second area I want to address is food culture, heritage and tourism. The Welsh Government’s strategy for tourism highlights the importance of quality local food and drink. About half of our food businesses supply the tourism sector but supply routes can be complex. We must provide support and guidance and get better at communicating what we do well. We should all take pride in presenting Wales and Welsh food to the world.  

The third area is green growth. The challenge for the food industry is to grow significantly while reducing its environmental footprint, through achieving resource efficiencies in energy, water and waste management. Food sector roadmaps and the Towards Zero Waste strategy will help businesses to become more competitive by using fewer resources, saving money and offering better balanced products. In the consultation I will ask how we can use support measures, including the next Rural Development Plan, to ensure that this positive action is an integral part of capital investment.  

The fourth area is supply chain efficiency.  Businesses cite increasing costs, access to finance and distribution as significant constraints. More innovation will add value, drive efficiency and create jobs and we must use all financial instruments to best advantage. 

The fifth area will tackle the need for a more integrated  food industry.  Integrated supply chains, from farmer through to consumer, deliver fairer prices, improve communications, enhance quality and build trust. The proposed Food & Drink Federation could provide a lead on creating effective networks, for example on skills, training and entrepreneurship; on innovation; or for export marketing. 

Food assurance and resilience is another key area to address. I want to build on the good practice we established with partners and Government across the UK but I believe we can go further. I want to develop a food security and industry assurance network to improve our preparedness for incidents, and our resilience when problems occur.

The final area I want to address is health and wellbeing. Access to quality food at affordable prices is vital for us all. We all need a healthy, well balanced diet. I am working with cabinet colleagues to address these issues. Tackling poverty is this government’s highest priority. We need innovative thinking, and must build on successful initiatives like community growing and food co-ops to lessen the need for food banks. We need to ensure that people can make informed choices to support improved nutrition and healthy living. Working with the industry on product development and improving communications on healthy eating will be the key to addressing this.  

I want to take forward and lead this debate over the coming months and will be publishing a route map to set out my proposed actions and timescale. I want to lead a discussion throughout Wales and will be speaking to industry and other stakeholders to create a rich and vibrant debate about food in our society. I have briefly outlined my proposals to deliver sustainable jobs, green growth, improved health and wellbeing. 

The strategy will set  the vision for both government and industry ensuring that both are accountable for delivering results.  I will be setting out the proposed targets and milestones in the consultation and will welcome widespread debate.  I want the food industry, stakeholders and Government to work together to achieve results and I am confident that together we can set our sights high and reach beyond our expectations.  

Please can I encourage you to add comments to this post, make suggestions and start this debate. Your comments remain anonymous, yes I ask for an email, but this is not divulged to ANYONE. I can assure you that wag food and HCC have to be regular visitors to welshfoodbites because my rankings would not be so brilliant otherwise!! Please don’t forget this is your industry, your future, your kids and grandkids future too, so do make your views know, yes even if you think wag food is doing a good job……     

PS  – Fork2Fork haven’t bothered putting up this important information yet. Guess £43k for a year’s work in up dating their website doesn’t guarantee efficiency………their last post was 13th September. Gosh that must be the easiest £43k ever earned in a year. 







Abergavenny Food Festival

23 Sep

Wag’s festival funding changes have hit the likes of Abergavenny hard this year. They only received the maximum £10k from the food festival budget as opposed to £46,800 last year – so that was quite a drop.

But what concerned me this year was to see that Visit Wales and HCC, Meat Promotion Wales,  both listed on the festival website as sponsors. This led me to believe that these bodies were then helping make up the shortfall in Abergavenny’s festival funding pot. So I asked wag’s press office and was told Visit Wales were not sponsoring Abergavenny. Then I was told to talk to HCC directly as they had their own press team, so that’s what I did, to be then told that HCC were simply an exhibitor at Abergavenny, not a sponsor. Further confused, I then contacted Abergavenny who said: we are working in partnership with them but we don’t differentiate that from sponsors on our website or other material as it gets too complicated.  Meat Promotion Wales are happy with their arrangement with us. We have different levels of relationship with various stakeholders in the festival and this is reflected in how we profile the individual organisations through our various media.

I find it bewildering that HCC class themselves as an exhibitor and  are shown on the festival website as a sponsor, that seemingly didn’t apply to the other 200+ traders who were also paying for stands to exhibit. But if Abergavenny class HCC and Visit Wales as stakeholders, does that mean additional money has changed hands between the three of them? Well who knows? Because despite me the real run-around I’ve been getting, I’m still not sure. So I’m afraid I’m no further forward, still perplexed so sorry dear reader, but I did try.

A brilliant bonus at this event is being able to use the hospitality section located at the back of the Kings Head. Run by Suzanah from her own company, sbh events, that lady is a star. There was an excellent range of food and drink on offer, which was what the visiting guest speakers and media required throughout the day. A board also gave a list of producers who had donated produce and I really hope that they all got good feedback for their generosity. Suzanah and her team should be congratulated for putting on such a professional and tasty show. I was impressed by how quickly the tables were cleared, which was necessary as it did get busy but everyone was so polite and helpful. Of course all the produce on offer should have been Welsh, that goes without saying, but I’ve not attended another food event that has looked after media so well, so as I say, a real bonus.

Ian and I were obviously earlier getting there this year, arriving at the event at 8.00. We tried to get in Hospitality for a much needed coffee boost, but sadly we’re too early for Suzanah this year. Not to be beaten, we continued our caffeine search and went into Cross Street, finding just one coffee shop that had the foresight to open at that time and boy that was worth the effort for them. When we sat down, there were 31 people in Luigis, * with many eating breakfasts! Good coffee, pleasant helpful service. I was just surprised that no other cafés in the area bothered to open early too. It’s only on for two days and it seemed silly not to make as much money as possible when so many people were arriving. Whilst I’m on my coffee theme, I’d a few comments from traders saying when they were setting up they’d no hope of getting a coffee. That was another disappointment. Over the years, Ian and I have done many tradestands, so we’re aware that coffee is essential to help you through the tough setting up process. I can’t understand that the few coffee stands that were around, and in fairness I didn’t see that many, hadn’t been encouraged to make and early start, make some early cash and provide a welcomed, much-needed service to the rest of the traders.

Signing in to the festival after my caffeine fix, I was cross to see a stand just by the hospitality entrance promoting Paella Fresh Seafood from Cornwall, yes Cornwall, seemingly our Welsh waters are barren! I’m afraid that annoyed me all day, even though they did describe themselves as Paella Pirates from Penzance. But of course they weren’t the only stands there not Welsh, we’d veal from south east Cornwall, who somehow got into the popular Market Hall, pies from Devon, there were chillis from Wiltshire, bread from Devon, Spanish food, and of course the regular garlic man for the Isle of Wight, who also got a priority place on the Brewery upper level with their other stand alongside selling tomato related products Their two stands looked huge, I’d guess about 25-30 feet, but there’s no way you could miss them, that’s for sure. Before attending Ian did a calculation of where the stands came from and he found not quite 50% Welsh stands, although wag food have decreed funded festivals must have at least 75% Welsh stands. I think 75% is a fair amount, but I also feel very strongly that some Welsh stands shouldn’t be pushed away into slower trading areas either. Wag food must be promoting Welsh food producers and if wag food fund a festival, the organisers must put Welsh producers first.

A disappointment to me and the producers sited there was the Lower Brewery Yard, because there was no traffic flow, or more precisely people flow. There was no entrance/exit at that end, so what it was a cul-de-sac, which doesn’t encourage people to move down to that area, when they did they didn’t stay there very long, even though there were some tables and chairs there. Many traders allocated space there were most unhappy and I can see their point. It was a shame another entrance/exit couldn’t have been sited there, but you will certainly not have traders wanting to go back in that area again, not that they seem to have a choice where they are sited. I do wonder when the garlic man is allocated space in that lower quarter instead of the busy Upper Brewery Yard itself. I appreciate it’s impossible to keep all traders happy, I appreciate that traders aren’t always easy to deal with, but then all organisers aren’t either and we all must remember that traders are there to earn their living. I do wish there was a fairer way to allocate the better sited trade stands more fairly. If traders are put in a known slower area then a fair way would be at least to adjust those stands fees. What I did like in the lower area though was a new walk way through to the Priory, which has never been a favourite area of mine I must admit. But this walkway did move some people through quite easily to it. The Priory didn’t seem to quite know which sort of area it was, but having said that some did say that they’d not had a bad time overall – so something was working – and that’s all that matters, despite my misgivings.

An area that did work well was the Lion’s Place, some brilliant artisan cheese stalls, wine, beer, hot food all in all a great selection that created a wonderful atmosphere. This area really works. When I say I spoke to quite a few traders in that area at the beginning and at the end of the day, I didn’t chat to anyone who’d had a bad weekend. In fact one said it was the best event he’s been to for a long time – how about that? With another difficult trading year for producers, that was music to my ears, especially as the company was on of our Best of Welsh & Borders producers! A few of our Best Of Welsh & Borders who normally attend this event weren’t there this year but they’d had problem over the last few years, and had been moved form their usual busy pitches and pushed out to the quieter Priory. Some of them complained, during the event and some after and this year, they weren’t there. Whether they’d decided not to apply again, I’ll have to find out later, but these were professional long-standing Welsh producers. In my ideal world I would have hope someone from Abergavenny might have picked the phone up to them and tried to re-build bridges, but as I say I’m not sure yet if anything did happen. I  got good feedback too from many traders sited in Cross Street, they’d also been busy and enjoyed themselves.

I called into the Monmouthshire craft area, which was around the back of Lions Place, on Lion Street in Horsington’s Yard as we’d a few advertisers with stands there. But I was livid when I arrived to hear a Jazz band, literally belting out their music. Now I’m not anti-jazz, in fact, especially as the group was quite good, but they needed a volume control, they were way, way, too loud. People were stood enjoying the music, but the few people trying to shop, couldn’t hear themselves speak. The traders were there to sell, not be deafened by music. As one trader told me – We traders are the entertainment, not jazz musicians! After the close of business, the jazz band would have been brilliant entertainment, but not when traders are trying to engage potential customers to purchase in what is a very tough trading climate. Light background music is great, it creates a good atmosphere, but people and traders should not be deafened out by loud noise, even it is music!

Overall I have to say that the event was good and for those Welsh traders that did manage to get a space, many did  seemingly do well. It is also good that the festival attracts so many people from all over the UK. I do though remain worried about the funding, the smoke and mirrors of Visit Wales and Meat Promotion Wales. Taken on its own, the value from Wag’s food department has to be good, but will the criteria be upheld from that department? I just can’t see any policing of their policies that wag food have set in place.  So why bother?

*Sorry but I completely forgot to tell you about meeting Mr Holtister in Luigis. This lovely gentleman was soon chatting with me about the festival and showing me some super photographs he’d taken. But what also surprised me was he was also a poet. He gave me this poem which I wanted to share with you:

Food Festival

 The Glory of a festival is there to be seen. As you go round the corner it will make you beam,

Enjoy yourself while you can – because our festival is so grand.    

From the festival poet G. Holtister  

Abergavenny Update posted 020113  

I have obviously hit a nerve!  

Today I have received a letter of complaint from HCC stating that I am implying that HCC is corrupt.

I state most emphatically that I am not implying that at all. What I am saying is that HCC is not giving me all the facts about their spending.

HCC have been asked how much they spent overall on their stand at the Royal Welsh, no specifics, just an overall figure. This question followed comments into us from butchers, who felt that this was not the best way to promote Welsh Meat. So this is HCC butchers that are not happy and have different ideas about meat marketing. This question would not have been raised unless it came from one of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers. HCC told us that this was information was commercially sensitive and could upset their stand builder. I didn’t think I was clever enough to work out how much the stand provider gets from HCC from an overall figure, but there we are. That’s financial information HCC can’t supply to me.      

Abergavenny Food Festival lost in excess of £30,000 of Food Festival Funding this year. On the Abergavenny Food Festival website both HCC and Visit Wales appeared as sponsors. My admittedly cynical view was wondering if the funding had been directed via different ‘government’ parties. So I asked questions, to be told that both HCC and Visit Wales are just exhibitors. I then asked why all the trade stands are not listed as sponsors, as this simply still doesn’t make sense.

So I am not implying or accusing any corruption, but I am stating that in my view, transparency and openness is lacking and obviously raises queries.   





Food Festival Review 2012/13

19 Sep

It seems like forever that I’ve been asking, rather impatiently I must add, for a copy of the Review of Welsh Food Festivals 2012/13. My thoughts are, if it takes so long to get this review published, what use is it for helping to formulate plans for 2013/14? Well obviously none, but once again a classic example of wag food simply ticking their beloved, essential boxes.

This review was undertaken once again by Miller Research. The cost to us, the taxpayer was £42,301 for Miller to visit 32 of the 33 wag funded festivals. Not a bad rate if you cost it out @ £1k per festival and then £10k to put together at their office their figures and views. It was actually published in June 2013 and I’ve been trying to get a copy of it ever since. In July I was told it was going to be posted on wag’s website ‘later this summer’. So of course I’d then to go back and get an explanation of wag’s ‘late summer’. So then I was told it would be posted on their website around end of August with them assuming of course anyone would know where to look for it!

Yesterday I chased wag again, after wrongly assuming that wag would be kind enough to send it to me when they’d posted it. Silly me, that would mean wag food helping me, wouldn’t it? Anyway I followed the link I was given and have printed off something like 32 pages. I will not bother posting it all for you, but if you wish some bedtime reading and maybe it will just get you off to sleep, just visit:

But if 32 pages is too much for you and you’d rather have a summary, if you’re a regular welshfoodbites visitor, then maybe there’s little need for you to bother, apart from some of the facts and figures that I can’t always understand.

Searching through wag’s site made me chuckle though, as under  ‘news posts’ one was dated 23/8 – Food & Drink Producers Survey, then the Food Festivals Review was posted on 16/8 and that was followed by a Newsletter posted on 4/6 along with a further Newsletter posted on 30/11. So not much food news and seemingly not a busy site, but why not? Answers on email please…………………..

This might interest you though as in this report it states: food festivals 2009-10 showed that, over a two year period, supported festivals attracted some 700,000 customers and generated some £7m in direct sales and up to £42m in additional spend in host communities. In addition, some 2,400 additional jobs were created by producers attending festivals and a total of almost 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs were supported overall. However it was also noted that some events were not proving to be an effective investment for WG, using food as a convenient label to attract funding for more general events, subsidising value-added markets or re-branding Christmas Fair and many of these presented a risk to the brand of food festivals in Wales. 

You are all well aware by now that I’m not pro any reviews or surveys, I simply cannot believe people tell the truth to survey or reviewers. Many give vague answers because they feel they shouldn’t be asked those questions in the first place, others give a totally false answer just to be awkward, whilst some are just not going to reveal their financials from festivals because it is not wag’s business, it’s theirs! I’m surprised that a figure of 700,000 people attending can be taken as gospel, because they are many festivals that don’t charge an entry fee. I could quote one festival, that doesn’t have an entry fee, but quote 10,000 people through. As this festival doesn’t run a Park & Ride and with little public parking, that figure cannot possibly be true, but I as a journalist am supposed to believe it and use it in an article for them! I’m also intrigued how figures can be quoted for direct sales and additional spend in host communities. Where do these figures come from? Do all businesses tell the truth? Being forever cynical, I say possibly not.

Another snippet was that food festivals had to have their main focus on food. Fair enough in some instances, but not when funding is then pulled from the Smallholder Event, held at the Royal Welsh showground, which has caused massive problems. Shouldn’t wag in theory have a little flexibility and have funded the Smallholder form another budget like they fund The Royal Welsh and Winter Fair? If it can be done for those two events, why is the Smallholder treated differently and penalised? Smallholder has never appeared on the Food Festivals funding list, so their funding should never have been withdrawn under this pretext of main focus on food. I went through the Freedom Of Information Act, and was told that Smallholder was funded, not from the food festival budget, but from ‘Promoting Welsh Food’ – Budget Expenditure Line. I think this was an ill-thought through decision from wag and it’s about time someone from that department explained why this has happened.

I was pleased that Miller did manage to pick up on the criteria, or lack of criteria that is, that some larger food festivals use to select stalls. I also hope that they picked this issue up off their own bat and not from welshfoodbites. There has always been a lack of transparency about how stands are selected, apart from the obvious face-fitting one. I asked some larger festivals about their selection process. Cowbridge responded promptly to my questions and their criteria was sent through to me and posted on welshfoodbites. Cardiff also sent their criteria through but sadly Cardiff and I have yet to agree on how tradestand selection should work………

I was puzzled to read under ‘food related event’ that it stated cookery demos remained the predominant form of food entertainment, well that’s hardly a surprise as wag state in their criteria: Supplemented by chefs demos / opportunities to showcase produce.

I read that as wag saying you’ve got to have a cookery demo. No comment about focusing on local chefs though.

As Miller state that visitor spend is approx. £18.50 a head, I have no idea why so many producers moan to me that they are having a bad time, saying that their takings are down as against last year. In some cases they are down 50% and others even more.

Another snippet that will interest some of you, but rile others: The assumption is made that that two thirds of spend within festivals goes to producers; this would imply approx. £3.6m across the 32 events reviewed. Given that the total of £1,911 per producer per event is reached. So why are many producers struggling at food festivals?

Miller estimates a total economic impact of up to £22.7m on communities across Wales, from an investment of £327,444, which represents excellent value for money. This could also support up to 950 full time equivalent jobs in Wales. Yes, but did that actually happen?   

If you have the time and energy, download this longwinded report and read it for yourselves and see how much you agree with, bearing in mind you’ll have attended many of these events yourself, and as I did  and will no doubt have very much a different take on them, as I have!!!!


Thank You For Your Support For Welshfoodbites

19 Sep

I really must say a huge thank you for your support for welshfoodbites, it really is appreciated. I’d also like to share some ranking figures with you taken on 13/9 but I forgot to post:

 URL Metrics Rankings


In the UK     –     6,502

In the World – 265,221


In the UK     –    984,149

In the World – 8,062,362 

Now I have a little test for you, one of the above sites is being funded this year by the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme to the tune of £43,761 for additional activity for their website and some further information circulation, can you work out which one? Who has been sending you lots of information about what’s happening in the world of Welsh food?  

Struggling for an answer, I’m sure you’re not, but just in case you need a clue – it’s not welshfoodbites! 



Countryside Alliance Awards

18 Sep

Someone ‘who values the remarkable contribution I make to my local area’ has nominated me for a Countryside Alliance Award. I’ve no idea who has taken the time and trouble to do this on my behalf, although I’m assuming it’s not the wag food department,  but whoever it is, I must say a huge thank you, it really is so thoughtful of you.

The Countryside Alliance Awards celebrate rural communities and enterprise. Nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’ they are in their ninth year  – just like Welsh Country magazine – and enable them to applaud all that is good about rural life. Apparently the public have been nominating their community heroes across four categories and telling them what makes them so special.

The 2013 awards were launched in early September and are open to nominations until 1st November. Regional winners will be announced in February 2014 and winners invited to their national winners reception at the House of Lords in April 2014. Further details are available by visiting:

I doubt that I’ll become a regional finalist, but I’m grateful for whoever took the time and trouble to put my name forward. Whether I’m been nominated for Welsh Country magazine or for welshfoodbites, the letter I received this morning doesn’t say, but thank you so much. To be recognised by anyone, especially when people are so busy and under so much pressure, is really appreciated by me and the team.


Aberystwyth Food Festival

18 Sep

Held this weekend, the same as the Abergavenny festival, I was debating as to whether I wanted to spend the full weekend at food festivals and visit both. Still undecided, I thought I’d check out the web and see which food producers were attending Aberystwyth, great idea that, but it failed. I ended up on True Taste website which is a rarity for me I can assure you. But all I could find when the festival was on, where it was, that there were cookery demos and 50 producers were attending. That was it. No details of which food producers were attending, so if I wanted on spec to contact one and pre-order for Saturday, I’d no idea who was going to be there unless it is just the regular market traders, plus some.

I am totally fed up of saying the same thing, but I am so cross I’ll repeat myself. This festival is getting funding from wag food of £3,613.04 which is about a third of what they’d asked for, but I have no idea how wag food worked out which festivals got what – that’s another wag food mystery. For this year wag issued a long list of criteria and just in case a reminder is helpful, here’s what is required:

Food Culture Grant Funding – Food Festivals Criteria

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 

Obviously I’ve a special interest in two of these criteria, awareness raising of the event by promotional material/Press/signage & Press, PR and marketing – budget identified/appropriate to the scale of event. Well dear reader, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that I’ve not had one press release from Aberystwyth food festival, nothing at all, zilch! I’m guessing there might be something in the local paper this week and perhaps that qualifies as ‘appropriate to the scale of event’. But if the organisers send a press release to their local paper, why wasn’t it sent to me? Do I no longer qualify as a journalist with a special interest in Welsh food? I simply can’t understand when an event has taken the time to write a press release, why it is not sent to all media. The main time and effort is in writing the press release, not in sending it out via email to your press mailing list.

I get many complaints from producers about low attendances at some events, sometimes implying it’s my fault! I then have to explain that if a food festival is working with us, we follow through from their advert to using for all press releases and news items and then use social media for them as well. But when I ask producers if they’d enquired as to how the festival was going to promote & market their festival, I’m then told – but I didn’t ask them that – but why not? It matters to you and your livelihood.

As for the fact I can’t find on the web which food producers are attending, is another big black mark, because ultimately a food festival is there surely to focus and promote the food producers. If the task of putting all producers up on the web who have paid their money to attend is too tough a task, then why are wag funding it, albeit with such a small amount?

I’ve posted about wag food paying two companies to do a review on food festivals this year but as I’ve already ranted, in my view this is another total waste of money because I cannot see how these companies will pick up on these issues. Unless of course they read and use welshfoodbites as Miller Research appeared to do in their  review for 2011, we’re still waiting for 2012 is not yet published!!! But as always it’s the food producers that lose out on the promotion side and wag just don’t seem to understand it.


Llanwrtyd Wells – Tennerfest Offer

16 Sep

I had some details sent through to me today about Tennerfest and thought it might well be of interest to you. I have a soft spot for Llanwrtyd Wells, but still sad that their super food festival bit the dust. Held in April, it gave producers a gentle nudge into the food festival season and was one of the friendliest festivals on the circuit, a brilliant atmosphere.

Anyway Llanwrtyd have now come up with a great idea to boost trade and do some promotion for the area at the same time. They’re running Tennerfest. It takes place 18th -24th September with suggestions for outdoor activities, craft workshops, places to eat, places to stay and a farmers market in the week long Tenner Festival for Taste Llanwrtyd.

There are lots of great deals @ a£10. T&C’s may apply and of course always subject to availability. But let me give you a couple of examples. The Drovers Rest, a long-term supporter of Welsh Country magazine, and owned and run by top Welsh chef Peter James. The Drovers is part of Tennerfest and are offering two course lunches for £10 on the 19th, 20th & 21st and the only extra is that you must buy a drink which is not included. Booking is essential and please don’t hang around on this one as Peter and his team do a great, great job. Cammarch Hotel are another supporter of Welsh Country and their deal is chicken or a vegetable curry, plus dessert for £10, a super and friendly hotel, this another offer worth taking up and is available on 18th, 19th 23rd and 24th  but I’d book first to make sure.

I really like this idea and if the organisers have got their publicity and marketing right it could really be a winner for all involved, the town and the surrounding area. Well done guys for doing something innovative for yourselves and pushing Welsh food .


Healthy Appetite for Scottish Community Food Fund

12 Sep

Further proof, if further proof was needed, that at least Scotland Food & Drink team talk to me. Here’s their latest news:

Eighteen local food and drink initiatives are toasting their success after winning grants totalling more than £100,000 from the new Scottish Community Food Fund (CFF).

Administered by the Food & Drink team of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the Scottish Government fund supports projects and events around the country that encourage people to appreciate and access local produce.

The projects to receive funding in the CFF’s first round include Uist Veg box, which provides locally grown vegetables and herbs; food and drink festivals in Largs, Elgin, Dundee and the Borders; Edinburgh Community Cafes Festival; and food and drinks networks that bring producers together in Lanarkshire and the Highlands.

David Lamb of SRUC’s Food & Drink team said: “There has been real enthusiasm for the Community Food Fund. For the first time, the local food and community food sectors have an opportunity to benefit from national support. The Fund is really targeting their needs and helping them achieve their aspirations to bring high quality, locally produced food to more people across Scotland, and to promote it further afield.”

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment said: “It is clear that more and more people want to understand and be involved in the production, growing and sourcing of what they eat. Across a wide spectrum of ages and backgrounds there is a growing appreciation of the role of local food in our communities who want to be able to taste and enjoy the wonderful products available on their doorstep. This not only gives them access to fresh, seasonal and nutritional good, but also ensures there is a local bond with their food and suppliers. 

“The Community Food Fund provides access to funding which not only makes this possible, but allows them to look at other ways of engaging local communities with top quality produce.”

Tracey Baxter, organiser of the recent ‘World Jampionships’ jam-making competition held in Dundee is one of the recipients of the funding. She said: “We are delighted that the Community Food Fund gave us support, as we have had overwhelming feedback on the success of this new venture. Quite simply, no Community Food Fund – no Jampionships.”

With the next round of the CFF opening for applications this week, more projects are set to benefit from the £1.2 million fund between now and 2016. Applications are considered on a quarterly basis by a panel comprising representatives from Scotland’s food and drink industry.

Sure you’ll let me know your views on this scheme in due course.


Is There to Be Food Festival Funding Next Year?

12 Sep

A food producer called in on Monday asking if we knew that Welsh food festivals weren’t being funded next year.

Well of course I hadn’t been told that. If I’d have heard officially, meaning from wag food, I would first have emailed it around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and then I would have posted it on

So I contacted the wag press office as I’ve been instructed to do and asked them. Their reply is as follows:

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Any such rumours are  completely untrue as no decision has yet been taken on funding for food festivals in 2014/15.”

So in true journalistic fashion, reading between the lines, I understand their response to mean, wag food have not decided officially yet, but it could well be true.

If producers need more uncertainty in their lives they can usually rely on wag food to provide it.