At Last Wag Has a Full Board

30 Jun

I received this press release this afternoon from wag and have published it in full:

Food & Drink Action Update
A year since Towards Sustainable Growth was launched, the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans today provided an update on progress to deliver the priorities of our action plan for the food and drink industry in Wales.

The update included significant work to redefine the Bwyd a Diod Cymru Identity, which will encompass the diversity of the food industry and champion and celebrate the Welsh language. We have also launched the new Food and Drink Wales website, to improve two way communications with industry, as well as the Food Tourism Action Plan for Wales which will result in much closer working between Food Division, Visit Wales and external partners to create opportunities for food producers and tourism businesses alike.

The Minister said, “The plan has been, and continues to be, about action. It is predicated on partnership between government and industry. We are a pro-business government, working closely with companies to create growth and jobs in every part of Wales and we established an overarching and challenging target of 30% growth in sales by 2020 and we are on course to achieve this target.”

The latest priority sector statistics for farming and food reported £5.8bn turnover which means that we have already achieved 11.5% growth since 2012-13.

To support business growth, Rebecca Evans today announced the development of a Micro-Business Cluster programme to ensure that we dedicate support for the smallest businesses to ensure a sustainable pipeline of new businesses, and the development of a new Impact Business Cluster programme, that aims to target businesses who are looking to grow at a rate of 50% a year. These programmes will have business leaders at their heart, and who will help shape and lead their development.

This follows a recent announcement of investment over £2.5m during the next two years to ensure Wales continues to have a strong presence at a series of key UK and international trade events. This support will continue to enable our companies to enhance their profile, build market share and maximise their sales in both existing and new markets.

In 2014/15, as a result of their participation in the UK and International events programme, Welsh companies secured nearly £6m additional business, with further opportunities identified of over £16m.

The Minister also used the opportunity to announce the new members of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, another key commitment.

“I am pleased to announce today that following the receipt of many applications and a rigorous assessment process we have full membership to the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board. They are the voice of the industry, the voice for businesses of all sizes and the voice for the supply chain. It is vital that a shared responsibility is developed between Government and industry and this is where I see the Board playing a major part.”

She thanked the interim Chair, Robin Jones, from Village Bakery, who is now stepping down from the role saying he provided “a dynamic voice” which will help deliver “a new era of opportunity, growth and success.”

The members of the Food and Drink Industry Board Wales are:
• Norma Barry, InsideOut Organisational Solutions,
• Annitta Engel, D.B.G.E Limited,
• Catherine Fookes, Organic Trade Board,
• Justine Sarah Fosh, Improve,
• Buster Grant, Brecon Brewing,
• Alison Lea-Wilson, Halen Môn,
• David Lloyd, ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre,
• Katie Palmer, Sustainable Food Cardiff,
• Llior Radford, Llaeth y Llan,
• Andy Richardson, Volac,
• Justin Scale, Capstone Organic,
• Marcus Sherreard, Dawn Meats,
• Huw Thomas, Puffin Produce and
• James Wilson, Welsh Fishermen’s Association

Our Deputy Minister says this food and drink plan is all about action, but I disagree when it has taken since the second round of applications closed on 24th April, for us to be told who the government has appointed to its latest food board. But perhaps that qualifies as civil service action. Over two months to give the green light to five more people – none of whom are running their own businesses and people I think we’d describe as ‘suits’. I have to wonder if tax payers will feel it’s been worth the time and money spent on this action plan. This press release has already been sent around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and I’ve already been asked which of the people on this board are not paid by wag or have not been funded over the years by wag. But sure most of you can work that answer out yourself. I apologise to our BOW producers if you get this press release twice today, assuming wag food might have bothered to do that. Never mind wag food, I’m happy to help you do your job for you. Remember, Kath says communication is the key.

We are told that it’s vital that a shared responsibility is developed between Government and industry and this is where our Deputy Minister sees the Board playing a major part. What she hasn’t bothered to explain is how this will happen. We are all aware that the government and in particular the food department, cannot or will not communicate to food and drink producers, so I’m at a lost how this board will achieve ‘a shared responsibility’. Let me know what you think.

We are also told that Wales continueo to have a strong presence at a series of key UK and international trade events. Well that’s great news for those companies that get invited to these events and have proved to wag that they have potential to grow. But what about the micro and small business who often have festivals and farmers’ markets as their starting points? Well we’ve no idea what the food festival budget is this year due to wag splitting the funding list into two and I’ve yet to be given the second tranche of funding, which will not be until the end of July. But let’s assume the funding has been chopped again. Let’s also assume that wag will not explain why, after bleating on for years that festivals must be self-funding, that they have now given the green light for some festivals to apply for £25k instead of £10k. Where’s the logic there wag? How’s that self-funding? Or for the big three, Conwy, Cardiff and Abergavenny does your ruling not apply? Now to farmers’ markets, which wag are not responsible for, as that’s down to county councils, but it was ok for wag food to approve a project of £800k, initially – it ended up lots more – to look at farm shops, box schemes and markets. There must be some logic there too, but maybe I’m missing it!

Delighted to read that Deputy Minister has announced the development of a Micro-Business Cluster programme to ensure that wag dedicates support for the smallest businesses to ensure a sustainable pipeline of new businesses, and the development of a new Impact Business Cluster programme, that aims to target businesses who are looking to grow at a rate of 50% a year. These programmes will have business leaders at their heart, and who will help shape and lead their development. Now isn’t that good news? Note that this is for companies who are ‘looking to grow at a rate of 50%’ I guess that applies to quite a few companies, but in this poor economic climate how will wag judge if genuine growth is there? Bear with me as I’ve got it now, wag will have business leaders at their heart, and who will help shape and lead their development. What a pity there are no business leaders named.

My fear, as it seems to be with this government and the food department, is that wag have offered sound bites, but there’s precious little meat on this bone that will achieve a great deal and with Welsh food and drink so important to Wales we do need much more. .

Please do let me know your views and add your comments on


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  1. BOW

    July 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Once more you are spot on.
    You describe the latest board intake as suits and you’re right.
    Don’t Improve have something to do with training and were set up by wag in the first place? Well if that’s the case, they’ll be another quango that will be paid by us to attend the meetings and then be able to claim expenses.
    Does Norma work for wag too?
    This sucks for tax payers, but it’s how wag works. Those that have shall get more from the tax payer.
    Your comments I found valid, but sorry you didn’t raise a smile this time.
    It’s another talking shop as has been said, but an expensive one.
    Wag as always is, wants to focus on the companies that can export and have already been well funded, but I’ve no hope that micro companies will be supported.
    Will wag tell us how many micro companies are working in food and drink?
    Wish you’d gone on this board.

  2. Cheese

    July 1, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Cheers for going for this one
    without you and Ian we’d know nothing at all.
    Pity wag food cannot accept you do much of their work for them. But arrogant bullies can never do that.

  3. Parrot

    July 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Me on that board you are having a laugh I guess!
    You could have gone on this board…………………..
    I THINK Improve are partly a training company and I THINK are funded by wag.
    I also THINK Norma’s company works partly for wag too. But check out their websites to clarify further.

  4. Parrot

    July 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I no longer expect anything from wag food – hassle excluded – so please don’t worry about that. Our food and drink prodcuers are what matters to us.

  5. Jay

    July 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Working for years in this industry I’m sorry that my company face doesn’t fit wag’s, which I’ve always found rather two-faced. Others haven’t had this problem, hence they’ve been funded by wag.
    I just wish that the platitudes that poured out from the mouth of our deputy minister didn’t make me worry about the future of my business.
    I don’t believe she understands how our industry works and it’s so easy to focus first and last on the bigger companies that have grown because their face does fit.
    Pity the taxpayer doesn’t get this funding back when food companies are sold for mega bucks on or as in the past, return back to Ireland. That’s not right or fair.

  6. Toby

    July 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Like to say this was worth waiting for but I cannot lie on here!
    You summed this up early on and got it right. Suits and more suits but at least Buster’s there as a small business and head of food and drink wales.
    Because you keep hitting the wag nail on the head, that’s why you worry wag and wag food, yet that’s no reason for them not finding a way to work with you.
    They’ve no common sense, being uncivil servants and they don’t really know our industry.
    I suggest you change the magazine and tell your readers how poor this department is run.

  7. DI

    July 2, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Wag food will not take what you say on board.
    You tell the truth.
    You are always constructive in what you say and waht you want.
    You’re correct is what you say because you and Ian talk to food and drink producers.
    But telling the truth makes wag food upset because you are saying that they have got many things wrong.
    If wag were big people and listened to you and Ian we could get this industry moving and not wasting so much money.

  8. MR T

    July 2, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I’m delighted wag now has a full board.
    After this long wait, I’ll now be able to sleep at night.
    My opinion is that this shower are too out of touch with the real world that we live and work in. But we’re being unrealistic expecting them to understand us, let alone do anything practical about our wants and needs.
    I’m sure wag are all over this site like a rash, but it’s frustrating that they cannot take up anything that’s said on here. Another slap in the face for producers.
    Wag could start with communication, then stop throwing money at stupid, pointless projects, I could go on but it’s such a waste of time.
    Wish we could elect our own civil servants in May. 2016.

  9. bow

    July 2, 2015 at 11:56 am

    You got what you asked for eventually
    but still can’t see what another talking shop will do to help us.

  10. bow

    July 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    It matters not a hoot what producers say on here about what they want. It’s not relevant to either wag or wag food but great for us at least to make it clear that we are not happy.
    Much as we dislike this situation, no-one, not even Kath, can tell civil servants, let alone ministers, that they got it wrong. She does that and wag food shut her out and then bully her incessantly.
    The policy is, first lick their boots, tell them how wonderful they are, then you’ll be offered funding and that’s your opening for getting on this board for many long and interesting chats. All in your own time, but if you’ve been funded the urgency and panic is reduced.

  11. Honey

    July 2, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    For the record Kath I’ve only had this news sent from you and Ian by email and NOTHING from wag food. Not a shock that though. More of a shock if wag food had comminicated with me.
    Thanks to you and the team we are kept in the loop as much as you are from wag and wag food.

  12. Dee

    July 3, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I congratulate you for putting in time and effort to try and get this information from a government that is not open.
    I must also congratulate you on this report, your comments as always I find get to the point.
    My point being we have a poor government but we have a chance to change that next year, but one thing we can’t change is our food department and the civil servants.
    We all thought the new regime would make a difference and my take on it, is that it’s got worse. Something we didn’t think possible, has happened.
    Well done Kath.

  13. Mr ANGRY

    July 6, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Well our thoughts were right.
    This is basically a big boys talkiing shop. Only Buster has a smaller sized company.
    So we’re supposed to be impressed with a micro busines cluster, whatever that might turn out to be, that’s the fob off to micro businesses. That’s supposed to shut us up.
    The deputy minister says it’s her action plan. Well for a policitician, I guess it is. Lots of words, lots of hot air, but the grass roots producers will gain nothing unless they happened to have the start of a brown nose.

  14. BOW

    July 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Terrific news, wag’s got a full board of people that will bow to their orders. That will really help all of us struggling in this industry.
    Thanks so much Kath for keeping us in the loop on this farce, if you hadn’t emailed us bow people we’d not have known what wag are doing.
    This site also keeps the public in the know of this waste of time and money by a government that seems to me to be clueless.

  15. Beer Boy

    July 8, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I’ve no worries now this board is complete. If only that were true.
    Wag’s mostly given it’s mates or companies that is funded, seats for this talking shop. So life is good in wag’s world, lucky them.

  16. Cup Cake

    July 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I don’t know where’s there’s any hope amongst food and drink producers. But it clear that this government and the food dept. will never change their attitude to us. The new regime is even worse that the old one.
    So many people have said the same on here, but this shower couldn’t care less.
    Wag don’t listen to us. Maybe that’s because wag don’t know all the food and drink businesses in Wales. For that same reason they don’t talk to us either. Instead they come up with the most stupid ideas.
    Kath grateful that we’ve still got backing from you and Ian.
    I have always hope wag would come to their senses and at last work with you. But this shows they’ve not much sense. If you were in Scotland you’d have Scotland backing you and building their food and drink industry stronger and sounder than ever with the help of your fabulous food led magazine.
    You will never win against Welsh civil servants and politicians, I don’t feel we’ve got the quality of government people that Scotland has, more the pity.
    You’ve said before it takes people with guts to admit they are wrong and wag can’t do that. They just want to plough on doing their own thing badly.
    Amazing the difference between Scotland and Wales on the food side, Wales come off worse as usual.

  17. Honey

    July 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I don’t give a toss that this government now has a full board, it’s a talking shop of favoured companies, nothing more but it will tick boxes for Europe.
    I despair of this government and I see this as a poor, weak food department, they are government puppets.
    It would make sense Kath for you to give up, because dealing with people like this, you’ll never get through to them. They are without a doubt a lost cause. Totally lacking in commonsense and business know-how. Thye’ve never run a business but can no doubt run a bath.
    As has been said on here a few times, we can vote in May to hopefully get rid of this inept government, but we are stuck with the civil servants we have. That’s a worry, but as I say they are nothing but gov. puppets.
    Kath is always saying you really couldn’t run a business like this government tries to run this country, but it’s scary they are allowed to govern this country.
    Civil servants should be reading and acting on the comments left on here. But arrogance is their issue and that’s why nothing changes for the better.
    Give up Kath. This department is for sure a lost cause.
    I’d prefer to give to charity than pay civil servants.

  18. Foodie2

    July 10, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    A Talking Heads team. I took the time to look some of those listed up to see who they were, and how they could represent me, a food producer.
    One whose company is “better relationships, better business” does not even have a phone number on the web site, one is based in York, one is an international company and one is Irish! Another had “latest news” on the website with the top story an article dated June 2013. So all these so called “business advisers” who cannot run their own business efficiently are supposed to be there to help me run mine? Head, wall and bang come to mind!

  19. bow

    July 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Foodie 2 talks sense
    Kath is it a relative?
    You are right, this gets more stupid. even as a talking shop govenment approved!

  20. Bow 2

    July 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I don’t give a toss that wag has a full board.
    I don’t give a toss that wag has another taking shop.

    I do give more than a toss that wag and wag food treat producers with such disdain if that is what you can call them for ingnoring us for years.

    I do give a toss that we’ve had a new head of food in place for nearly two years and hardly anyone has any idea who he is apart from being a government puppet.

    In the last two years I’ve done many shows including the RWAS and if he’s been there he’s kept a low profile maybe because he knows we are cross with wag food.
    Kath you are best to give up your hard work because this bunch have not got the common sense to work out how you are helping them.
    Thanks goodness we have this site.
    Pity wag can’t read and understand this site, let alone action what’s said on here. Too tough for them perhaps.
    Give up please.

  21. Jo

    July 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I’m as interested in this talking shop as wag food are in me and my business. That’s no interest at all.
    This will not sort out our food festivals or markets.
    It will not make the food deaprtment understand what we are doing.I think they are clueless and they can’t or wont tell us much of what they are doing. Wag food are like the secret service which is how this government works. Roll on May 2016.
    Wag just favour their favourite companies, the ones that they give grants too,
    I’m a two person band and wag food doesn’t care at all about me. If I can’t get into Abergavenny wag food will be no help at all. But I’m so happy – NOT – that Abergavenny will be able to get £25k this year, despite wag saying food festivals must support themselves.
    Wag food I think you talk total rubbish.
    Kath goes on like a stuck record telling you communication is the key and my word she’s right but you don’t get that. Is it too hard for you to understand.
    If Kath didn’t communicate with us we’d know nothing, she’s doing your job AGAIN. But her magazine doesn’t show us and her readers what you are doing to help our industry because, what?
    We don’t need to know? Does Wag not need to encourage the public to buy local food and drink? Seemingly not, they’ll just focus on exports, blow the home Welsh market.

  22. Scobie

    July 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Kath I wish you’d gone onto this board

  23. Parrot

    July 14, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Why? Did you put yourself forward for this board?
    I guess not!
    But that was never, ever, going to happen.

  24. Su

    July 15, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I’m as interested in this board as wag food are interested in my company which is zilch.
    grow up wag.

  25. T

    July 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Some GOOD news would be nice Kath
    I don’t know anyone who is interested in this board and certainly not producers. Most know nothing about it and those that do have little hope that it will achieve anything.But without you we’d have known nothing.

    Wag food treat us like mushrooms, keep us in the dark and feed us s – – -.
    thank goodness you and Ian are there for us.

  26. Stace

    July 24, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I don’t care about this board.
    Wag never asked me to be on it.
    Well done Buster for doing this I know he is a good guy and knows his stuff.

  27. bow

    July 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Wish I knew nothing about this, but if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t and neither would many others.
    You cannot beat arrogance and with civil servants you don’t seem to have a hope of beating bullying by them either.

    Give up on wag food. If they had the passion, knowledge and insight that you and Ian have for food and drink in wales, we’d have an improving and fair industry. We’d not only know what was happening but we’d have our veiws taken and not ignored.

    I have this dream but that’s all it is because we cannot make any difference to this government.

  28. Bow

    July 29, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I’ve not spoken to anyone who understands what this board is for.
    It’s a wag board and for them first and foremost – we come a poor second. As a micro producer I’m not even on their radar because they make it clear we’re seen as going nowhere. But Kath has said many times that it doesn’t apply to us all, some of us can grow with some help.
    Wag can’t be fussed to find out which of us want to grow, that’s if they know we exist.
    What budget this board’s cost comes out of?

  29. trader boy

    August 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    who cares apart from wag ticking another blinking box?

  30. Bow

    August 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Poor Buster, he’s like Daniel in the lion’s den, being the only mini business with no-one to back him up.
    Cheers for him doing this for us.
    At least he knows wag approve of him!
    Thanks for doing that Buster just wish you had a mate alongside you.