Surveys – Who Believes The Figures?

29 Sep

Journalists are allowed to be cynical, that’s how we are trained and surveys always bring cynicism to the fore. Over recent years we had companies reviewing Welsh food festivals, the reason for this is to tick boxes for Europe so further funding can be gained. I struggle to believe the numbers that are put out and how much supposedly food producers are taking at each festival. If the figures were accurate or very near the truth, I wouldn’t have as many food producers telling me that they are still worried about the future of their businesses and that their expansion plans were being put on the back burner. Recently one AM was on social media saying food festivals in north Wales brought in £16m to the economy. Of course £16m million into north Wales, can only be good news, but what I’m curious about is how is that figure is arrived at? How accurate is it?

Last year we had Wavehill doing a food festival review and I was told it was being completed by telephone and from food festival organiser’s paperwork. Wag food asked me to do a telephone interview with Wavehill:  As you have considerable experience in this area but I declined, for two main reasons. Firstly there was no payment and secondly that I had no idea how my input would be used or no control over it. I’m afraid that didn’t go down too well with wag food but then I was inadvertently copied in an email that went around wag food hierarchy saying:  if KR refuses to be interviewed without a consultation fee, and subsequently slates the final review, these can be referred to. 

My subsequent complaint did eventually get an apology saying that the civil servants’ email: do not reflect the views of Welsh government and the Food division and we are sorry if they have caused any offence. Offended, I certainly was, it is my choice but don’t reflect the views of wag and wag food? That can’t be true. I’ve not met, or spoken to this civil servant, so where do these views come from if not from wag food? I’m not obliged to do more work for wag food without a fee, I’m sure this civil servant doesn’t work for wag food for free, so why should I? I have little knowledge of Wavehill and would have had no control at all of their report, so how could I feel comfortable doing that?

I’ve recently noticed a festival using their part of the Wavehill report and quoting percentages, saying that over half their visitors weren’t local, plus the percentage that came from outside Wales and a spend figure from non-local visitors. But how can these figure be arrived at and be accurate? If the survey talked to every person attending, which is impossible, people still don’t tell the truth, it’s human nature isn’t it? But the reality is that this seems to be a sample of people that are ‘talked’ to and figures are then extrapolated.

I’m no longer reviewing festivals on welshfoodbites, as I’ve no wish to assist whichever company is doing wag foods’ evaluation. I’m also not naming, and certainly not knocking this festival, because they continue to do a good job year after year. How do I know they are doing a good job? Well that’s an easy question to answer, because I’ve been attending this festival for the last nine years. At each festival I attend, I actually talk to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, that attend and because they trust me, they tell me their views, what works well and what needs improving, if anything. Our BOW producers tell it to me as it is; they know it will not go any further unless they need my help with anything. But there’s nothing better than attending a festival where we have plenty of BOW producers in attendance and they are happy!!!

Some time ago I had a press release from a food festival saying they had 10,000 people through, which sounds good unless you are aware this festival is free to attend so there’s no way to do a visitor count and also impossible in my view that the town concerned could park 3,000 cars, let alone 5,000 cars. So apologies for my cynicism remaining intact.

I’d be really interested in your views on surveys and reports. Of course we must always bear in mind that box-ticking exercises are obligatory for wag to get further funding from Europe, wag cannot avoid that, but our Welsh food and drink producers and festival organisers need help and support that goes beyond box-ticking!


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  1. trader

    September 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Easy question, but you’ve already answered it, box ticking for Europe.
    What a pity you don’t talk to Europe and explain how much money Wales wastes on food, doing pointless projects that give big pay days to a few wag favourites.

  2. Cup cake

    September 30, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I’ve been a regular visitor to this site over the last four years or so.
    Wag are not big enough civil servants to grasp what you have been trying to do and you talk far too much sense for them to welcome what you say.
    What shocks me to the core is the way you’ve been treated by them such bullying and aggression from a government department is tragic.And tragic does fit because their blinkered ness, short sightedness, their inability to listen to what is wrong in food is the reason we producers are having such a tough time and it’s the micro group that concerns me. We don’t drop off wag food’ list because we are never on it. No-one but this lot can understand how a little practical help to the micro group can help, some of us at least, grow and employ.
    I’m also disgusted that you were stopped getting press tickets for Abergavenny. Classic case of Abergavenny shooting you, the messenger, when I think Abergavenny are guilty of fraud taking money when they are not obeying the criteria. Wag should have picked up on that deception years ago.
    Welsh traders are not a priority to Abergavenny and never have been.
    Why wag food are so gutless about this is down to their appalling track record and poor form. They should have backed you on this Kath, but sure you didn’t expect that.
    It’s to your credit that you have been backing us for so many years, you’re are a gutsy gal and I’m impressed that bullies, even government ones, don’t win with you.
    This food department has said it wants our input, it’s had your CONSTRUCTIVE input for years, but like a spoilt child treats you like a leper.
    I wish we could vote this department out and start again. You have high hopes for the new lot and know you must be so disappointed with their performance to date.

  3. Honey

    October 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The answer to your question is idiots only.
    Or those that know no better.

  4. Jelly Bean

    October 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    This report makes me mad.
    Why wag and the food dept. are singling out the only Welsh food magazine Wales has is disgusting. Bullying has hit the headlines again with trolls over the last few days, but it’s a pity that the welsh public don’t know what a lot of bullies we have in our civil service. They just hide behind their power roles whilst we pay them.
    Wag are full of their own importance and too silly to get that working together will help food producers. Instead they bully and harass Kath and her team and get away with arrogant behaviour.
    As we cannot put in our own food dept. we do need union.

  5. BOW

    October 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    isn’t it just wag and Europe that take notice of survey figures and of course politicians if the figures are backing their views?
    You can be guaranteed that producers and the public couldn’t care less about them. As producers we’re only concerned as to how much it’s cost us to get them.
    Not worth the paper they are printed on.

  6. BOW

    October 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Think you must have a degree in asking silly questions
    the only ones believing these stupid surveys are wag food, our politicians and Europe.
    The ones that are grateful are the companies that are over-paid for producing figures they cannot prove. If producers got as much in takings as these fictitious figures say we’d only need to work part-time instead of 12-14 hours per day seven days a week.
    Festival evaluations with figures that seem out-of-this world – it utter balderdash wag that we don’t accept.

  7. trader

    October 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    wag and Europe
    the rest of us have more sense

  8. trader

    November 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Silly people, government and Europe believe surveys but we’ll never believe the ridiculous figures that come out from surveys.
    But to get some of our money back from Europe we have to tick boxes, be the figures right or wrong, as long a the box is ticked that’s all that matters to get more cash.

  9. bow

    November 21, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Europe, which has already been said but that’s the truth.
    Europe insists on box ticking and Wales excels at that. Just keep ticking those boxes so Wales can go back for more money, it’s that easy.
    I think idiots write these surveys and further idiots give silly, senseless answers to them.
    They are an utter waste of money but wag is good at that too.
    Producers will never tell the truth to any surveys even if we are told it’s confidential. Neither will I tell a festival organiser how much money I’ve taken. But I’ll not ask them how much they are paid and how much the festival has taken either.
    MInd your own business wag, but you’re not very good at doing that.

  10. BOW producer

    November 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I agree with comments left only wag and Europe will believe any survey figures.
    Now we’ve all got it, we know that surveys tick another box so wag can get more money to throw at pointless food projects which achieve very little and never anything for grass roots producers.