Archive for January, 2016

Bodnant Sells ‘Welsh’ Pork…from Belgium

07 Jan

Apologies for having to play catch up, but I really wanted to post this story, late though it is. A lady paid a ‘premium price’ believing she was buying a Welsh ham joint whislt shopping at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. Despite a label clearly describing the meat as Welsh, her purchase wasn’t Welsh ham at all it was from ham from Belgium – the ham was stamped with the word ‘Belgie’!
The shopper paid a premium price for her ‘Welsh’ ham but is now wondering about the authenticity of the shops other products. Bodnant responded to the shopper’s written complaint but did admit that the pork could come from an EU country, despite it saying on the label. ‘Welsh cured gammon joint’, ‘pork produced in Wales’, and ‘origin – Welsh’.
Chris Morton, managing director at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre , said: “We are fully committed to promoting Welsh produce. “Our gammon is cured in Wales and is supplied to us by Farm Fresh, part of Castell Howell, a long-established, reputable and fully accredited company and Wales’ biggest producer of cured meats. We would like to apologise that, in this instance, the gammon joint had been incorrectly labelled, and we have taken immediate steps to ensure this does not happen again. We support Welsh farmers – all our fresh lamb, beef, pork and Christmas poultry comes from Wales, with the vast majority from nearby farms. All the fresh lamb, beef and pork at Bodnant is sourced directly from Wales. Our gammon is cured in Wales by a reputable, fully accredited supplier. They use pork sourced from the EU, including Wales and the UK. We will continue to work with Welsh suppliers.”
In 2012, Bodnant was opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and has since been named Welsh Farm Shop of the Year and the best in the UK by BBC Good Food magazine.

Sadly I’ve still not visited Bodnant, but I’ve had some excellent reports back from various sources, praising this outlet. To have a farm shop like Bodnant promoting Welsh food and drink is my idea of heaven, even more so if selfishly it was just down the road from me! But this story is so disappointing and very annoying. It’s likely to damage Bodnant, when they have worked hard to build a reputation of selling quality Welsh produce.  I hope they can sort out this issue quickly and get the message out again that they do sell quality Welsh food and drink.

Over the last few days I’ve noted this story taking Twitter by storm with various people venting their wrath. Well that’s fine, but I wonder how many of these angry people have found the time to do something even more constructive than just Twitter? Have any emailed the Deputy Food Minister and asked her why this well-funded, Welsh centre been selling Belgium pork? Asked her how can she make it easier for Bodnant to access Welsh pork and ham? How many people tackled the well-funded Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), to find out why this fine farm shop must get ham from Belgium to get what they then mis-label Welsh pork? The Welsh Government set up HCC to promote all Welsh meat, or so I understood, but seemingly Welsh pork for too long a time has had a raw deal and this situation seems to prove it.
Until last year I did have a splendid pork producer near me, but their ongoing complaint was that HCC didn’t do enough or in their words ‘anything’ to promote Welsh pork. I had to agree with this company because the focus of HCC seems to be Welsh beef and Welsh lamb, hardly ever, anything in the press to promote Welsh pork. I have no idea why this situation has occured but HCC need to do much more, in my opnion anyway, to promote our magnificent meats – and I mean all of them!

Welsh Country magazine has always set its stall out to promote Welsh food & drink, but even I have to admit it’s not been an easy journey, basically it’s government and people not being able to work totgether for the benefit of Welsh food & drink. We rarely get much coverage about Welsh food and drink in the media and Bodnant really didn’t need a story like this to hit the Welsh tabloids. Sadly good news stories are not often in the papers. But this is an important issue because it can easily knock the confidence of the many Welsh people who readily support their Welsh farmers’ markets, Welsh farm shops and Welsh food festivals.

I do hope Bodnant can get this issue sorted out quickly and that HCC at least tries to help them.



Wag’s ‘Review’ of FOI No. 9881

05 Jan

Just before the holiday wag sent to me their response to my complaint under the Freedom Of Information Act, Number 9881. It’s rather interesting that they have treated this as a complaint when in their initial response, dated and posted on on 23rd November, I was told if I was dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of my request, I could ask for an Internal Review.

So follows in full is how the Welsh Government has responded to my ‘complaint’:

Complaint in respect of FOI 9881 – Food Festival Evaluation 2015-16

I am writing to you, as Reviewing Officer, with regards to your email of 24th November expressing your dissatisfaction with the response you had received to the above FOI request. We have, as our procedures require us to do, treated this as a formal complaint.

I note that in ATISN 9881 you had requested:

• Which 6 [food] Festivals are being evaluated and why were these 6 selected?

• Why has the policy changed in that not all funded festivals are evaluated?

Following a review of the information I am content that the response issued is factually correct. It looks from the correspondence as if you may have confused the festival evaluation visits undertaken in 2015/16 with those carried out in 2014/15. In addition, I understand that you have already received, following an earlier information request, full details of the specification for the tender for the evaluation work quoted. As such, it does not appear that we hold any other information that would help answer the questions you raise.

In light of these points I have concluded that your complaint should not be upheld.

Now I must say this is hardly a surprise that my ‘complaint’ has not been upheld, it would have been a total shock if our version of the Welsh Secret Service had upheld my complaint.

My views and further questions on my initial response on FOI 9881 are posted for all to see, but there is no further clarification as to why the 6 festivals were chosen and I do dispute what wag terms ‘established event’ and geographical situation. Although I do feel that wag are working hard to confuse me I can assure wag that I am not at all confused about evaluation visits undertaken in 2015/16 and 2014/15. My questions are raised purely to find out what funding goes where and what Wavehill are doing for our money.
I am amazed though that wag cannot even admit that I am right and Wavehill were at Cardigan festival in August, even though Cardigan is not shown as one of their six evaluated festivals. They bwere there. I saw them so why can’t wag explain why they were there as Cardigan was not one of their six evalauted festivals.
The longer this goes on, the more obvious it is that wag and wag food in particular would prefer me not to ask questions. Well grow up guys, I’m a jounrnalist and asking questions is my job and it should be wag’s to answer them. Why they have to waste my time and taxpayers money using the Freedom Of Information Act, can only be descibed as pathetic. Welsh Country magazine has always been supportive of Welsh food and drink and that will never change. Sadly wag food fails to understand why Welsh Country is so passionate about Welsh food and drink, which is even more annoying when that is their job. Why wag food cannot work with us instead of treating us as the enemy is beyond my comprehension.

Government, wherever Government is, should be open, honest and transparent. That is something Wales purports to do, but sadly that is not my experience. As always Wag ignore the fact that they are spending our money and the Welsh public have a right to know where it goes and for what purpose.