Promoting Welsh Food – Who’s Responsible?

02 Oct

Now the reason I’m raising this question yet again, is because of an interesting comment left by one of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers under the post headed – Nato Summit, Newport. I’ve huge respect for John Savage-Onstwedder of Caws Teifi cheese, he’s an artisan producer, his products are brilliant. John always talks sense and his comment really got me thinking or fuming………..

What he highlighted was the amount of money that has been spent over the years on Wales The True Taste and Welsh  food festivals. John says it is inexplicable that those responsible for promoting Welsh produce; both food and drink, still get it so badly wrong. As an example he cites that whenever there is Welsh produce on the menu, it should be explicitly named. For instance if Caws Cenarth or Caws Teifi Cheese is part of the menu, that cheese should be named. The same applies to all other products, if it’s Welsh, state it clearly. He continues that other culprits are too many of our top hotels and restaurants who are still not stocking top quality Welsh produce. In his view chefs at the various food festivals pay lip service to Welsh produce, but often its just ‘talk’ and they do not as yet ‘walk-the-walk’!

The chef comment was sad, although I’m aware that some top Welsh chefs are huge supporters of Welsh food, we still haven’t nearly enough that are banging the Welsh food and drink drum. They are the idea way to help get the message across that Wales does provide top quality food and drink.

I’ve been ranting about this to wag food for years, but my rantings make little impression on them unfortunately. But  let’s think this through and ask the question, whose fault is it that years down the track, Wales still has this problem? I’m in no mood to absolve the Welsh Government of their role, but know full well that wag will pass this ongoing problem onto their wag food department. I’d partly agree with this, but only if the Welsh Government’s food policy is to ensure that government offices, hospitals, schools, colleges, universities and nurseries, care homes etc. also support and promote Welsh food. I sure I’m right in saying that this will rarely happen as slashed budgets mean purchasing will reflect price, not quality and certainly not Welsh produce. There’s certainly not and easy answer to that one, price above promoting Welsh produce is not one we’ll win.

So moving on, I’d like to throw the gauntlet down to wag food and Visit Wales. The responsibility to promote Welsh food does lie with wag food but as food festivals are now seen more as ‘tourist attractions’ Visit Wales have a huge part to play to ensure that Welsh food is always available in all Welsh accommodation, restaurants, bistros, cafes etc. They have had years and years to get this right, but it is still, in John’s view and mine too, nowhere near good enough. Now I am going back some time, but there used to be trade events held at the beginning of each year, getting local food producers together and inviting local business and tourism operators to get discuss and work with each other. I am aware that Pembrokeshire still hold one and that seems to work, but I’m not aware of any others. Mind you if trade events were being held, I’d hope that wag food would tell me, but then again sure my hopes are too high, as that involves communication and that’s never been one of wag food’s strengths!

In November, Welsh Country magazine will have been publishing for ten years. In that time we’ve expanded our food pages to a minimum of 10 pages and in a magazine size of 68 pages, that is more than a fair crack of the whip for Welsh food and drink. We constantly encourage our eateries to use our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW listing, and we certainly encourage our readers to use that listing too and to visit food festivals and markets. But is wag food doing enough to support our Welsh producers, be they our Best of Welsh producers or not? Your answers on a postcard, an email or a comment left with this post. Please remember you have no need to use your name or your company name – you can be Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck, James Bond of Dr Who for all I care, but your comments are useful feedback.




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  1. Cheeseman

    October 3, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Silly question Kath but know where you two are coming from.
    Answer WAG FOOD ARE
    it is their job to push Welsh food and they don’t, so enough said

  2. Foodie2

    October 5, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    WAG may be responsible, but they are not doing anything. Try typing in “Welsh food” into Google for proof – you get Visit Wales, and not a lot else. Why would someone wanting to know about Welsh food visit a tourism site, if they live in Wales????
    Compare their efforts with this:-
    We are trying to promote our produce on a level playing field that has a slope like a cliff.
    Please WAG – do what you are paid to do, pull your finger out and make us proud to produce good food and drink, knowing that you will help us every step of the way, not fighting us or ignoring us. What exactly is the problem, are we beneath your view, not worthy? Why do we help pay you then?

  3. Shocker

    October 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Another wonderful example of where wag food is falling down
    You’ve got a full-time job showing up their errors
    If they took notice of you then the same errors would not keep cropping up.
    I cannot believe this piece.

  4. Trader 2

    October 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Wag suffers from many problems and one is joined up writing. They give out silly criteria for festival much of time and those they issue they don’t follow through, so Kath does their job for them and then gets it in the neck from Abergavenny. What do wag do to sort this out, nothing at all, wag do nothing, how typical of them.
    Chefs if at festivals should be local if possible to plug their places and must be told to use food from stall holders. What’s the point if not?
    No use doing a fish dish if no fish stand there.
    This is not too difficult but you’d think were having to perform brain surgery. Kath has been offering these basic suggestions for what seems like forever but wag are too conceited to take note, hence nothing gets better.


    October 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

    This site makes me angry, constantly, but without it we’d not know how much money is wasted and what a poor job wag are doing promoting welsh food, sorting out festivals etc.
    It must be demoralising for Kath churning out all this news, not only with no backup from wag but being constantly bullied by them. All she’s doing is trying to help us. Why can’t wag food get that it makes little difference to Kath if food festivals are or not successful, or that their calendar makes no sense, she’s battling for us.
    Wag food should know that if they were doing a good job then this site would not be needed. They’re not doing a good job, hence how popular this site is. It’s a talking point at markets and festivals. This site keeps us updated, another job wag should be doing.
    I’d not know the new head of food if I fell over him but there aren’t many that don’t know Kath and Ian.
    well done guys

  6. Parrot

    October 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Sorry I’m making you angry.
    It’s not good for morale to keep repeating myself rather like knocking your head against a brick wall
    But I don’t have to do it but want Welsh food to improve and for life to be a little easier for our producers
    never imagined it would take so long.
    what’s that about taking a horse to water but can’t make it drink…

  7. trader

    October 15, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Why cannot wag food simply do the job they are paid very well to do? Why’s it so difficult for them? Kath, this question should never have needed to be asked, but how this department is run necessitates it being asked.
    This is deplorable. Nothing has got better in this department despite new people, and as always micro businesses are ignored. Seriously you couldn’t expect food civil servants to see the growth potential in some, but not all by any means, of micro businesses. Many of us can grow but we need help and support to achieve that. We can take one or two extra people with help to train them. Is that not valuable?
    I admire the massive amount of work put into this site, but pity wag food are such cowards.
    Sometimes I enjoy this site, but usually I’m furious about the same topics being raised. Though if you didn’t run this site, wag food can carry on pretending that they are doing a good job but not fooling the producers.
    I don’t know anyone else that has the guts or what seems like foolishness now, to tell wag food they are usually wrong. For doing that, wag food then bully and bully you, harass you constantly, when you are doing their job for them and showing their many errors and how they waste money.
    This is total disgrace. Wag food will never, never, never, get the support of the food producers after this.
    I think heads should roll there, but not a hope of that.

  8. BOW

    October 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I’ve bags of admiration for you and what you’re trying to do despite the negative and aggressive civil servants at wag food. Like politicians have they a code they are supposed to adhere to, maybe it just police and the like. I’ve also got huge regard for John. He’s a top producer and he should be listened to. But like you, he’ll be ignored, that’s a given.
    Wag food say they want producers and stakeholders views and input. Stupidly they expect us to believe them. How can we when we know how they’ve treated you, singled you out and been bullied by wag food for telling the truth about their constantly poor management. Hassled for telling the truth, never thought that would happen in Wales. We’ll now never believe a word they say.
    If wag food wanted us to trust them, the way to do that was to take note of what you and your team are saying, as you’ve been doing for years. That was a way to have built up our trust. Instead they think it’s ok to bully you shamelessly, as Abergavenny did too. What did wag do about it? NOTHING. Nothing at all. Abergavenny can get away with whatever they like, including not supporting Welsh producers, whilst wag are bystanders and just give them money. Wag food and Abergavenny are both bully boys and they are cowards, there are other words I could use but you’d not allow them up here.

    I would like a union as a means of fighting wag food. We deserve better and so do you.

    If I was younger and with no family ties I’d move to Scotland, Scotland does support its producers, unlike wag food. Here your face must fit, your nose must be brown and be stuck in the wag food trough, if they allow it.

  9. Parrot

    October 15, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for adding a comment and for your support.
    The expression you can take a horse to water but not make it drink, seems relevant.
    Well I’m sorry I bothered to give them my views on their action plan and even sorrier I asked our Best Of Welsh & Borders to do so too.
    I’d have thought support and backing of food producers was an essential for a food department, but this is government so it doesn’t appear to matter.
    I no longer expect anything positive from wag food, so there’s no longer any disappointment just fury at the bad deal our producers are still getting.
    thanks for posting and your backing.

  10. beer boy

    October 16, 2014 at 11:52 am

    You and John talk so much sense, proof if proof were needed you don’t work for wag food!
    Keep up the good work and don’t let the bullies win

  11. Bow BUTCHER

    October 21, 2014 at 10:12 am

    As far as I’m concerned HCC. But there interest lies in export and their free trips abroad at our expense.
    Why they have done a sensible focused campaign across Wales to encourage our own people to eat Welsh meat and support their local butchers, leaves me speechless. Let’s get our own people fully backing Welsh meat and that will really make a difference. Push local butchers instead of supermarkets, many of which don’t back Welsh meat farmers.
    I will have to ring you Kath to discuss this and see if you know why it isn’t happening and why it has never happened. I don’t understand it. Why can’t they work with you at WC?
    Of course exports will help the big boys but they always get whatever help and support is going. Why can’t HCC ruin a campaign to Back Welsh Butchers? Appreciate no trips abroad for them but as we also pay them what support is there for us? Oh I know the answer to that one – more brochures for us……

  12. Parrot

    October 21, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Please give me a call by all means and I shall explain just what the position is with ourselves and HCC. I can go into more detail on the phone rather than on here.
    Sad to say that I’ve heard this plea many times, as we’ve some impressive butchers with us on BOW. They are all saying the same thing but you are not getting your message through to HCC – that’s a fact. I’d try ringing them but don’t hold out much hope as I’d put butches/farmers onto them before and no joy.
    Again sadly, we’ve not the slightest control or input into HCC, but that is not through our lack of trying. We’ve been trying since 2005. Now we’ve had to admit defeat and give up. It’s so annoying and frustrating, but a 10 year old Welsh magazine that has a strong Welsh food content for some reason, known only to HCC, doesn’t fit their marketing strategy and never has! I’ve now had my name taken off their press mailing list because I cannot promote HCC if they are not supporting and working with us. us.
    Form pour side of course it is an obvious link but not to HCC and the choice is theirs. Not sure where logic applies here but as I say it is their decision.
    We hate giving up especially HCC but you can only knock your head against a brick wall for so long.

  13. cup cake

    October 22, 2014 at 8:26 am

    You ask the obvious and I understand why but I think it’s about time you gave up flogging this dead horse. They have no wish to listen, they’ve no wish to ask producers, especially micro producers, what they think, what they need. I admire your courage in having the bottle to stand up to this ineffective department but it’s cost you heavily. You were told when you first began this magazine that you were up against bullies and not only has this not changed, it has go worse. No-one would have expected that to happen but the new people can take credit for that.
    I hate bullies from the playground upwards, but bullying from a government department stinks.
    But bullying is the reason they refuse to work with you and all because you tell them how to improve their department. How pathetic they are.

  14. Parrot

    October 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Interesting to get your feedback and thanks for that.
    How that food department is run is nothing to do with me but your take on it is what many are saying.
    Wag say they want our input but the bullying I’m getting means that is not true.
    I’m telling them what our producers are saying to me and our team. You’d think we get credit for being constructive in what we are saying, but no, seemingly that’s not required either.
    If I’ve told wag food they should communicate with food producers once, I told them a hundred times, but to no avail, unless you count bullying!
    I’m sorry I’ve failed getting through to them, but they’ll still get paid……………………..

  15. Producer

    October 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Wag food are totally responsible for promoting Welsh food.
    It’s that simple.
    They should get on and do they job we taxpayers are paying them very well to do.
    The shame is they don;t do that, the don’t talk on a regular basis with us even on email.
    I note someone has said he was at the RWAS and never saw sight nor sound of the new head of food but I’m told he was there.
    Well why didn’t he tour the stands one by one, introduce himself and talk to us. Kath and Ian each went around that food hall on their own and talked to everyone if they were not busy serving. I know some traders left their stands so they could have a quick chat to them.
    I’ve no idea what the new guy looks like but as he’s been there over a year he should do another part of his job which is talk to producers.
    Why didn’t you take him around Kath?

  16. Mr ANGRY

    October 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    wag food are laughing at food producers – they take their money for supposedly supporting us, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve been producing food here for over 15 years and the only good thing to happen in Welsh food is Welsh Country. Those guys work their socks off for us and their readers. They’ve battled against the food lot ever since they started. But instead of that lot opening their arms and embracing this brilliant mag, they bully them, they haven’t worked with them for years and instead made their life difficult. The only reason I can come up with is because Kath asks too many questions, she gets too near the truth and this lot have a lot to hide.
    As a teenager I was told to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Well those idiots treat Kath as the enemy, but instead of bringing them closer and supporting the magazine, our Welsh food magazine, she’s bullied for telling the truth and give your feedback.
    You lot are nothing but cowards. You are too silly to recognise how much Kath’s team can do to help your department, help producers and grow our industry even more.
    I’m angry, really angry. Kath is always saying you’d never run a business like that department is run, I think you’d struggle to run a bath.

  17. Jo

    November 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    It’s a no brainer.
    Wag food are paid and paid well, to promote Welsh food.

    But in my biased bow view, it’s Welsh Country that promote and help producers. We are lucky to get so much space for Welsh food. Your efforts to link eating places, hotels and B and Bs to buy from us is brilliant.

  18. Parrot

    November 26, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    kind of you to leave a comment, thanks.
    If wag food and visit wales cannot link eateries to local producers, then we’ll do that job for them with our BOW producers.

  19. Mr C

    November 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    The people we pay are the ones responsible but as no-one holds them to task they do whatever they like, whenever they like
    nothing changes, nothing improves
    It’s all depressing but pleased that you keep us as updated as you can
    Of course you are fulfilling one of wag foods’ roles doing that but
    that’s so kind of you.

  20. Mr Mick

    November 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I think the point is the people being paid to look after food and that has to mean food producers don’t seem to give a hoot about us.
    I am also not sure that wag food know how many producers there are in Wales. They’ll certainly be clueless as to how many micro producers there are here.
    Our comments are all agreeing and the only lot out-of step are wag food, but still that message misses wag food.

  21. FOODIE

    November 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I see why this question is being asked but the horror is that this question has to be asked.
    I agree with others – it’s a no brainer
    that responsibility lies with wag food, that’s what we pay them rather well to do.
    The reality is that department never has understood what producers need. Time and time again on here it is said that wag food ignore micro businesses and that is true and is a scandal. With the right support as Kath has said many times, some micros can grow, they can take on an extra person or two but there is no support for us from wag food.
    They wont even back us when Abergavenny turn us away each year. But the garlic man from the Isle of Wight is always there.
    Welsh food could grow if wag food helped their own producers and not just the big boys who get all the grants. .