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Archive for July, 2017

Smaller Welsh Food & Drink Companies To Benefit From €1.8million Boost To Increase Global Competitiveness

25 Jul

Smaller Welsh Food & Drink Companies To Benefit From €1.8million Boost To Increase Global Competitiveness, now if some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, do not take advantage of this €1.8million programme – I shall be very cross………………………………………..

This press release came through this morning from the Welsh Government and is published below in full:

Small and medium food and drink businesses in Wales are set to benefit from a €1.8million programme to help increase their competitiveness in global markets.

Wales will become the latest nation to join the Atlantic Area Export Project, which supports businesses from across the Atlantic Arc to work together to overcome the barriers smaller businesses in the sector face when they try to expand into international markets. Currently over 72% of food and drink exported directly from Wales goes to the EU. This figure is much higher for Welsh red meat, where 90% of exports go to the EU. The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, will make the announcement during the second day of the Royal Welsh Show.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

“We’ve seen Welsh companies become global brands, such is the high quality of food and drink we produce in Wales. We want to help more small companies break into new markets. Today’s announcement will help them to do this – just one breakthrough can be a real game changer, providing a significant boost to our rural economy.”

Exports of food and drink have grown by almost 20% in the past year.

The latest boost to smaller businesses follows the Welsh Government’s announcement in March that £21million would be made available through Project HELIX to help smaller food manufacturers in Wales increase production and reduce waste. Since then the project has supported 162 small and medium sized businesses and safeguarded 120 jobs. The Welsh Government has committed to investing £2.4million over the next two years to expand the food and drink industry’s export market and raise Wales’ global profile. As part of this commitment, the Cabinet Secretary will today announce the successful BlasCymru/TasteWales event, which brought global food and drink industry members to Wales to connect with Welsh food and drink producers earlier this year, will be returning in 2019.

The announcements come as initial findings from research undertaken by the Welsh Government on UK consumers views on the value of Welsh products, found 8/10 shoppers prefer to buy Welsh products and 75% think Welsh food equals excellent quality.

The Cabinet Secretary added:

“We will continue to push the UK Government to prioritise full and unfettered access to the single market and avoid any new barriers which impede Welsh food and drink businesses from operating effectively. There are many opportunities and we are supporting our food and drink sector to be in a position to make the very best of these.”

Now some good news to update you on, I actually received an invite from wag food to attend the Minister’s speech today and also offered tickets to the show ground!! That was a welcomed invite, even though as accredited press for RWAS I was officially allowed to turn up anyway. Well with her busy schedule, the Minister was obviously not going to have a chat with me after her speech and more importantly, neither was she likely to book 12 pages of advertising for our next six issues, so I just couldn’t justify another day at the RWAS to listen to a brief speech. However any help for Welsh food and drink producers, provided there is lots of guidance and back-up too, is welcome news for me.

I’m not sure why Taste Wales will run next in 2109 and not next year, but it does seem to have been effective.

Now my final update is to say wag food also invited Ian and I to the Business Lounge above the Food Hall. Well not having been in this hallowed area for many years – and even then we weren’t officially invited, but press passes can still get you into many places – and the improvement in that area was amazing. You are all well aware how hard Ian and I and the team here work to promote Welsh food and drink and our BOW producers, I’m constantly saying we produce the best food and drink and that display was proof indeed. It was a magnificent showcase. We’d many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, in there and that was so good to see. Buster of Breconshire Brewing needs a pat on the back too as the number and quality of drinks shown was first class.

With wag food having invited so many buyers, I think in excess of 200, but if only a proportion actually attend, it is still much needed and a way forward. Hopefully serious discussions will ensue and then orders will come through thick and fast. If producers what to go the supermarket route then this wag food help is to be welcomed, it really was an impressive showcase. I asked wag food if the likes of Aldi and Lidl had been invited and they had, so it would be good to see more Welsh products in these two supermarkets in particular as they are so strong across Wales. Deli chains had also been invited, which I was also pleased to hear as I know that’s an area many or our BOW are interested in, but not always finding it easy to crack.

Welsh Country magazine for some reason known only to wag food, has not always found ‘dealing’ or working with them easy and it’s certainly not been trouble-free. This has been more than frustrating. Our agenda, apart from gaining advertising so we can continue publishing, is to support not only our BOW producers but to support Welsh food and drink. Welsh Country is the only pan Wales magazine and the only Welsh title that is promoting Welsh food and drink so to me at least, working together should be an obvious.

This press release was sent around of BOW producers this morning and I hope wag food are pleased I’m helping them with their publicity for free! But truthfully, we promise to keep our BOW producers in the loop – if we are kept in the loop………………

But I’m sure you’ll agree that this is, for once, is a positive post and we are hopeful that life will become easier for our Best Of Welsh and Borders producers, whatever level they are trading at.

 
 

Ceridwen Centre & Crwst – Finalists In The CLA Rural Business Awards

19 Jul

Ceridwen Centre & Crwst are two of only three Welsh finalists in the Country Landowners Association, CLA Rural Business Awards together with ET Landnet.

I had to share this with you, I actually think in a way it comes under the blow-your-own-trumpet-banner, but so what? Of the three of the Welsh businesses named as finalists, in the Rural Business Awards, Ceridwen Centre and Crwst are advertisers with Welsh Country magazine. But here’s a further gloat, we sent the press release from CLA about the Rural Business Awards to our advertisers and that prompted these two superb businesses to apply, so please excuse my crowing, but just so pleased for them. I passed the press release through to wag, but not sure if wag did anything with it or not, but chuffed we did!

Here’s the CLA press release about the three Welsh winners:

A quirky wedding venue, a micro bakery and a rights of way consultancy from Wales are all in with a chance of being named three of Britain’s best countryside-based firms after making the final stages of the Rural Business Awards 2017. The Ceridwen Centre in the Teifi Valley, ET Landnet of Llanelli and Crwst of Pembrokeshire have been named one of five nationwide finalists in separate categories of the awards. Ceridwen is a finalist for Best Rural Tourism Business; ET Landnet has been named for Best Rural Professional Services Business and Crwst is up for Rural Entrepreneur of the Year. The awards, run in partnership with the CLA and Amazon, are the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses. Now in their third year and with nearly three times as many entries as in 2016, they are split into 13 sections with one category winner also crowned overall Champion of Champions on the night.

“Congratulations to the Ceridwen Centre, Crwst and ET Landnet for being shortlisted for the awards this year,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “It was great to see a record number of fascinating and inspirational entries this year, all of which are a true testament to the creativity and talent of rural businesses. I wish the Ceridwen Centre, Crwst, ET Landnet and all the shortlisted companies the very best of luck for the awards night.”

Ceridwen Centre Ltd is an eco-minded holiday, course, retreat, event and wedding venue on a 40-acre organic farm in the Teifi Valley in West Wales. With the potential to accommodate more than 60 people in glamping accommodation including yurts, a Romany caravan, a double decker bus, eco pod, upcycled static caravans as well as converted traditional stone buildings, Ceridwen is licensed for wedding ceremonies in The Old Dairy and Green Oak Pagoda and holds receptions in a giant tipi, attracting more than 2000 people a year to Wales. The farm is fully organic and still has 12 acres of oats, wildflower hay meadows and a small organic market garden growing veg for visitors and courses. Holders of the Gold Award for Best Sustainable Tourism Business in the Carmarthenshire Tourism awards for the last four years, Ceridwen’s owners greatly about the rural environment with energy demands served by biomass, solar thermal and solar PV. Employing up to 20 local staff, judges thought Ceridwen was an interesting, unique idea with “brilliant green credentials”.

Co-owner Simone Broome said, “We’re a family business based on a very small organic farm here in darkest north Carmarthenshire. Traditionally this is a farming area with very little employment outside farming and with all the difficulties associated with farming in the 21st century. We entered the awards because we’re wholly committed to being and working where we are and we want to grow a sustainable business for future generations of our family and for the local community. We’re trying to do this with the lightest possible footprint we can. Being recognised for an award like this which is rooted in rural values would mean a great deal to us, and would both boost our profile and would be a reward and a stimulus to our fabulous, enthusiastic team. And, of course, as my rather irreverent spouse has already said, it would be a very effective investment of £50 for our little business!”

ET Landnet Ltd is a leading consultancy specialising in Rights of Way, advising and representing landowners throughout England and Wales. Based in Llanelli, it offers legal and technical expertise, dealing with everything from footpath and bridleway diversions to modification orders and challenging path claims as well as public inquiries, representation cases and advice on gates, stiles, surfaces and structures. ET Landnet understands that managing public access to land is a significant issue for landowners and is there to help. Judges thought ET Landnet was a highly specialised business giving a level of expertise for its rural clients.

Michael Wood, director of ET Landnet, said: “Whilst there seem to be many awards platforms at which business may gather, the focus on those specifically working in the rural economy seemed to be absent until the creation of the Rural Business Awards.  We have watched the development of the awards and have previously thought of entering but as a small consultancy, we worried whether we were too small and too niche.  Well this year, rather than thinking, we are doing and we hope to be proved wrong! To win the award for best Rural Professional Services would be fantastic. It would be the recognition that what we do is to a very high standard and has real value to our clients and makes a positive impact on their lives in the rural community. It would highlight the benefits to landowners of engaging small specialist consultancies to handle intricate issues to achieve positive, cost effective results.”

Crwst is a micro-bakery based in Pembrokeshire at a home kitchen. Co-owners Catrin and Osian Jones produce handmade real bread and seasonal bakes all from home, with the aim of bringing London’s modern and trendy bakes to rural West Wales. Crwst supplies up to 10 local businesses in the area and uses local produce in the bakes, for example: Pembrokeshire Sea Salt. The couple grow vegetables used in bakes and uses online tools such as social media to promote the business. The whole concept of Crwst impressed judges, who felt Catrin and Osian showed vision and ambition for their relatively young business.

The RBAs are the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain – a sector of the economy they felt was all-too-often overlooked in favour of large city-based firms.

The awards are organised by rural businesses for rural businesses and judged by people who understand the rural sector, which is growing rapidly and employs in excess of 3.4 million people in more than 600,000 businesses across the UK.

Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “The Rural Business Awards gives rural enterprises of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their success and the contribution they are making to our thriving rural economy – just the firms that have entered in 2017 have combined turnovers well in excess of £70m.

“Tourism is such a vital part of the British rural economy, with businesses the length of Isles helping the whole country flourish by encouraging visitors to enjoy our glorious, green, diverse rural scenery. This was the most popular category of our awards this year and we really have seen some stunning entries, from a range of business which demonstrated not only strong financials but a deep commitment to things that really matter: accessibility and the environment. When it comes to entrepreneurship, this may be traditionally associated with the bright lights of our big cities, but the truth is that business acumen is alive and well in the Great British countryside too.

Helen Woolley, director general of the CLA, said: “Each of these outstanding rural businesses deserves a place in the final. They have shown great expertise in their field and have a real understanding of how their business fits into the rural economy. I wish each and every one good luck at the awards ceremony in October.”

I can only add from the Welsh Country team, the very best of luck for the awards ceremony in October. Even getting to the final is an achievement, but we’ll keep you updated for sure.