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Welsh Food & Drink – Rural Business Investment Scheme

22 Sep

Welsh food and drink has been waiting for official news of this food grant scheme for some time and now we have details we’ve sent this to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and of course posted here. The reason being we think it is crucial as it is a capital investment scheme for food and drink processing or manufacturing activities currently not eligible under the previous Food Business Investment Scheme. There’s money there and if you don’t bother applying well best thing for me to say is that’s your choice.

The grant scheme is now open for applications and all the details, application forms and guidance notes can be found at:

http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/farmingandcountryside/cap/ruraldevelopment/wales-rural-development-programme-2014-2020/rural-business-investment-scheme-food/?lang=en

Please check this out but I have copied just some of it below hopefully to motivate you to go for it!

The Rural Business Investment Scheme – FOOD (RBISF) is a capital investments scheme to support projects that offer clear and quantifiable benefits to the food and drink industry in Wales.  The scheme is open to existing and start up micro & small food and drink processor’s and manufacturers throughout Wales.  

This is a capital investment scheme for food and drink processing or manufacturing activities currently not eligible under the Food Business Investment Scheme.  

The maximum grant for an individual investment project is 40% of the total eligible cost with a maximum of £50,000 for any individual investment project. 

All projects supported through the scheme must make a contribution to the overarching Food Strategy Action Plan – Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2010 -2020 with one or more of the following objectives:

promoting and developing a growing and vibrant food and drink sector in Wales continuing to develop a green image based on sustainable production methods further building resilience into the industry to withstand market changes driving improvements in food safety and security promoting technological innovation in both product and processes providing career opportunities at varying skill levels. 

Important: You must ensure you complete the appropriate application form for this window, please check the Window dates on the form. 

Further details on the application criteria can be obtained by reading the Guidance and supporting scheme documentation.

Scheme Indicative allocation Expected maximum number of full applications Window opens Window closes EOI Decision Date
Rural Business Investment Scheme – Food £300,000 15 20-Sept-17 1-Nov-17 22-Nov-17
Rural Business Investment Scheme – Food  

 

£500,000

 

25 29-Nov-17 24-Jan-18 14-Feb-18

I’m sure after doing all this work for RBIS for food, we’ll get the usual moans and groans because ‘it doesn’t apply to me’ or ‘I can’t tick those boxes’. Well if you think you have a solid case but you are finding the forms rather tricky, then either talk to Menter A Busnes or talk directly to wag food.

 

Please don’t miss out on this…………………………………..

 

 

 
 

Welsh Tourism – Are Wetherspoons Anti-Tourism?

21 Sep

Welsh tourism,  are Wetherspoons anti-tourism because their no dog policy even outside is how it seems to me.

This is what happened after visiting the Aberystwyth Food Festival on Saturday 16th September, when  Ian and I stopped off at Wetherspoon’s Yr Hen Orsaf, simply to have a drink. I sat outside at the front, with our well-behaved and very quiet dog, whilst Ian went inside for drinks. There is no food served in the two areas at the front of these premises and the weather was rather chilly.

I sat in the non-smoking area which was empty apart from one gentleman. The smoking area had just a couple of people there, obviously smoking and just one of them drinking. After waiting for ages to be served, Ian explained that it was busy inside and there were quite a few noisy children, so he was pleased we were outside.

Whilst sitting there a member of staff came out, collected a few glasses and went back inside.

When we’d finished our drinks and were about to leave another member of staff came outside and said we couldn’t sit there – that there were no dogs allowed. Asked why not, she said it was a Wetherspoon rule and as Wetherspoon owned the pavement, that was their decision.

I disputed who actually owned the pavement as I understood that Ceredigion County Council owned and were responsible for the County’s roads and pavements. No explanation was forthcoming but she said she’d get her line manager to come out and walked off.

A man appeared, said ‘Hi guys you’ve got a problem? Well I’m the manager. As a female I object to being called ‘guy’, but can only assume that either that greeting is part of Wetherspoon training, or perhaps it’s acceptable for me to address him as ‘girl?’

Then we were told that Yr Hen Orsaf did own the two roped off pavement areas, but when challenged again, he said well maybe Wetherspoons didn’t own it, but they paid for it. When asked how much ‘rent’ was paid he said that was commercially sensitive information! The manager made no further no comment until I explained that I intended to post this on Trip Advisor. He then suggested I contact Head Office, as he, as the Manager is the person that monitors Trip Advisor for Yr Hen Orsaf. Well that’s fine, but Trip Advisor will actually put this problem out in the arena for many to see, including dog owners.

Our dog is not a problem otherwise he would not be taken out in public, which cannot be said of the children running riot inside Yr Hen Orsaf!

The Manager agreed our dog was not causing a problem and that he was better behaved than many children that visited Yr Hen Orsaf, but it was company policy – NO DOGS. The Manager went back inside and as we were about to leave, two individuals said the Manager was wrong and they hadn’t realised we’d a dog with us. Then one lady kindly directed us to two pubs across the road opposite Yr Hen Orsaf, that both welcomed dogs, plus a café between those two pubs that also accepted dogs. She said she’d never heard anything so stupid as this Wetherspoon policy.

On Monday I contacted Ceredigion Country Council press team and ask them to clarify who owned the pavement and if Wetherspoons had bought this pavement area how much had they paid for it, or if they rent this space from the Council, how much is paid per year.

Follows is my email sent to the Press Office on 18th September:

Please can you clarify the outside of Yr Hen Orsaf in Aberystwyth?

The Manager has apparently stated that because they have roped of some of the pavement and put tables and chairs on both sides that this is THEIR space.

  1. Please can you clarify if the council still owns and is responsible for this section of pavement?

     2. If the council has sold this section of pavement to Wetherspoons please say when this deal took place and how much the council made on this sale.     

     3. If the council rents out this space to Wetherspoons please state price and terms agreed.

 Apparently the two pavement sections outside Yr Hen Orsaf are roped off as smoking and non-smoking. However a person – well actually that was me! – on Saturday afternoon was told she and her partner couldn’t sit in the non-smoking area outside with their dog, despite having bought and already had finished their drinks. She was told categorically Wetherspoons OWN THAT SECTION OF THE PAVEMENT. It is Wetherspoons’ space and their policy is no dogs outside, despite the Manager admitting the dog in question was asleep and less trouble than many children inside.

Please clarify fully Ceredigion’s policy on this situation.

Below is the response on behalf of Ceredigion County Council which I received on 20th September:

The Council is not in a position to comment / respond on the specific aspects of the disagreement behind the enquiry; however it can be confirmed that:

  1. The land in question is within the ownership of Ceredigion County Council.
  2. Please see 1. Above
  3. As a condition of the purchase of the land, the agreement was that Wetherspoons would be allowed to place tables / chairs in the defined area.

As I didn’t really understand the Council’s response, I went back to them on 20/9 as follows:

Thank you for your response. I’m sorry for being rather stupid and not fully following your response. I’m not asking the council to get involved in any dispute but to simply answer the questions submitted to you. You are stating that the council owns the pavement in front of Yr Hen Orsaf as they own all pavements across the county.

Please confirm this is a correct understanding of your response to question three:

You say as a condition of the purchase of the land, which I assume by this you mean that when Wetherspoons purchased the Old Station initially, the council agreement was that Wetherspoons would be allowed to place tables / chairs in the defined area. So in effect you are saying that Wetherspoons have in effect have ‘bought’ part of the pavement in the defined area. What amount was paid to CCC for Wetherspoons to ‘technically own the pavement in front of Yr Hen Orsaf?  

The Press Office replied on 21/9 again as follows:

Please find below the response on behalf of Ceredigion County Council:

Ceredigion County Council does own the pavement in question outside the Station/Wetherspoons in Aberystwyth, but it does not own all the pavements in the County as many of those (particularly within the towns) remain in private ownership.

What the Council is stating in response to question 3 is that when the Authority purchased the land in question from Wetherspoons, a condition of the purchase was that Wetherspoons would be granted permission to place tables/chairs in that area. Ownership of the area remains with Ceredigion County Council.

I hope these answer your final questions. – Well not really as all my questions haven;t been answered but there we are!!!

But I’ve learnt something, in that the council doesn’t own all the pavements in the County. Now I wonder if the Council still clean ALL the pavements, even those in private ownership, particularly in towns! So CCC have granted permission to place tables and chairs in the area in front of Yr Hen Orsaf, but you will note that I’ve not been told that this is rented or not, only that they ‘have permission’ to use that space. I guess as this question has been ignored as it could be classed as commercially sensitive!

I’m still bemused by this Wetherspoon policy and only wish it applied to children, the majority of which are poorly behaved indoors. But I’m also angry as Aberystwyth is very much a tourist area and many visitors to Wales do bring their dogs. Why this section outside the Yr Hen Orsaf cannot accept dogs, especially as no food is served there, is annoying to say the least. Surely Wales should be doing everything they can to encourage tourists – our economy needs them.

However dog owners, whether local or visitors have no need to worry, as the lady told me the two pubs opposite Yr Hen Orsaf welcome dogs and also The Diner which is opposite the new bandstand welcome dogs.

So my dear reader, is the last time we’ll visit ANY Wetherspoons – with or without our dog……………………

 
 

Welsh Food & Drink Market In Cardigan

12 Sep

Welsh Food & Drink Market In Cardigan  

Welsh food and drink will feature in a weekly market in Cardigan thanks to Mum of two and founder of Cardigan Bay Brownies, Nerys Evans. She is in the process of establishing Blas, a new food and drink market and a much-needed brand for Cardigan. Cardigan Bay Brownies are a Best Of Welsh & Borders advertiser with Welsh Country magazine and the magazine, with their strong local food and drink ethos are fully supporting this project – hoping this pilot scheme will be the first of many across Wales.

 

The new venture in conjunction with Menter Aberteifi will be held in the Guildhall Courtyard every Saturday morning and will officially open in the next few weeks. Nerys is looking for local food and drink producers and businesses who would be interested in attending the Guildhall Courtyard in Cardigan every Saturday morning to sell their produce.

Nerys is aware that many towns and villages have thriving food markets and she wants that to happen in Cardigan too. She’s hopeful that the Courtyard within the Guildhall and indoor market complex can work as a welcoming social hub for local people as well as visitors and she is convinced that the market can function how it used to some 30 years ago and wants people to buy local.

Nerys can remember as a child that the upper market in Cardigan was really busy and that’s what she wishes to replicate. She’s pleased that everyone involved with the Guildhall is most supportive of Blas. There are tables and chairs in the Courtyard where people will be able to meet and socialise after shopping. With around 12 to 14 stalls there will be plenty of choice for people to come along and buy local.

Blas will open in the Guildhall courtyard from 8.30am until 12.30. Cost is £15 per stall. Nerys has already been in discussions with Ceredigion Country Council as regards parking for loading and unloading to make things easier for producers and talks are on- going. With the enthusiasm of Nerys and Menter Aberteifi there is no reason Blas cannot be a thriving hub for Cardigan.

 

 

 

 
 

Welsh Food Pop Up Shop In Conwy Bay

08 Sep

Welsh Food Pop Up Shop In Conwy Bay

Welsh food pop up shop in Colwyn Bay  – this is such good news. I received details of this project yesterday and wanted to make sure that as many producers as possible got to hear about it. Please don’t tell me yet again that this is not my job, I know that, but if it involves Welsh food and drink then I find it hard not to share! As is our standard practice, we’ve sent a mailshot to our Best of Welsh & Border producers. We’ve also passed our favourable comments onto a few of ‘our friendly Assembly Members’ too.

Here’s the press release in full:

This could be your chance to win a shop/production area!!

Currently working from home and running out of space or your workspace is becoming a bit of a squeeze?Do you need that little helping hand in taking the next step from kitchen table top to produce/shop space? We understand that taking the next step can seem risky and daunting but in order to grow, develop and expand into a sustainable business you just need that extra space to produce, retail, export and/or sell.

After a successful pop-up food shop ‘Natural Conwy’, a project supported by Dyffryn Conwy Naturiol which celebrated and promoted food producers of Conwy in 2016.  We are now able to offer the exciting opportunity to food producers of North Wales.

Exciting Future

We have earmarked a retail unit in the heart of Colwyn Bay which can be used solely as a retail space, a production space – or both. Colwyn Bay has undergone millions of pounds worth of regeneration over the last few years and was recently named as one of the most visited beaches in the UK.  It’s not just the seaside that draws people to the town. There’s also award winning Chef Bryn Williams’ Bistro ‘Bryn Williams at Port Eirias’, the recently upgraded The Station, renowned for its good food and friendly atmosphere, Fresh Hut, a new local food initiative serving up fresh, healthy meals and snacks and The Bay Hop, a micro pub that’s become a firm hit with the local community for its range of local beers and lively music sessions. Further investment also means that in 2018 Conwy County Borough Council will be moving around 750 staff into their purpose built office building – which is located directly opposite where your retail / production unit will be.

Local Demand

With the demand for locally produced foods and edibles ever increasing we have identified that there is a need for local produce and a need for spaces for local producers to produce!

The pop-up producers project 2017 is a Welsh Government funded project that will start in September 2017 and will be funded until September 2019. The project is supported by Colwyn Bay TownScape Heritage Initiative, Amaeth Cywain Agriculture and Conwy County Borough Council.

A versatile shop space in the heart of Colwyn Bay which can be used as production space only or as production and retail space.

First 12 month rent free

Business rate relief

Year 2 half rent

Contribute to the final design of the layout of the building using their proposed plan to guide this process.

Year 3 – We know by then that you will be a sustainable business model so we will hand over the responsibility of rent and rates to you.

We are particularly keen to hear from producers who are bread makers & bakers, however, we will consider and encourage application from all food disciplines of food and drink production.

How to Enter

We ask that you download the application form (from the web page url above) and demonstrate the development of a sustainable business model over the next 3 years.

We ask that all interested parties visit the space to check the suitability of purpose. Please contact Judi Greenwood on 07717 543 304 to arrange a viewing.

Deadline for applications: 5pm, Friday, September 22, 2017

Please email your completed application form, or for any questions or enquiries please contact: Alwen Eidda: alwen.eidda@menterabusnes.co.uk or Sarah Wilkie: sarah@shcreatives.co.uk

I am so pleased that the Welsh Government has funded this project as I was interested in the initial Welsh food pop-up food shop ‘Natural Conwy’. What I’d like to know is which people are judging this competition and how they are going to assess the applications. I can only hope that it is judged purely on merit and the winner has potential for future growth and employment. This is such an exciting project for Welsh food and one I’d like to see running across Wales, not just in Conwy. But having said that, I’m impressed that Conwy has not only tried something different, but that it’s been successful and they’ve been able to move the project forward. It’s great to post a good news story on welshfoodbites……………………………

 
 

Welsh Food Festivals

07 Aug

Welsh food festivals, give you the best of Welsh food and drink.

This is the list of Welsh food festivals being funded by the Welsh Government for 2017/18.  I have been asked to clarify my wording ‘being funded’ as the festivals listed are not being FULLY funded by the Welsh Government. The situation is that festivals are allowed to apply for some funding – the maximum this year is £5k  – and if the festival fits the Welsh Government’s criteria and wag agree that will be awarded the amount when all their paperwork has been sent into wag and verified. I’m more than happy to clarify that and sorry again for not knowing how much each festival was awarded this year.

Apologies for delay in posting this list but I’ve only just received them! Anyway better late than never!

Food Festivals 2017:

Caernarfon Food Festival

13th May

Wrexham Food Festival

13th & 14th May

Cowbridge Food Festival

28th & 29th May

Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival

10th June

Brecon Food Festival

1st July

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival

9th July

Clwydian Range Food Trail

Aug 2017 to Mar 2018

Big Welsh Bite

5th & 6th August

Cardigan River and Food Festival

12th Aug

The Denbigh and Flint County Show

17th Aug

Newtown Food Festival

2 & 3 Sept

St Fagan’s Food Festival

9th & 10th Sept

Abergavenny Food Festival

16th & 17th

Valleys Festival

23rd Sept

Narberth Food Festival

23rd & 24th Sept

Neath Food Festival

29th Sept to 1st Oct

Denbigh Plum Festival

7th Oct

Llangollen Food Festival

14th & 15th Oct

Gwledd Conwy

27th to 29th Oct

Llandudno Christmas Fayre

16th to 19th Nov

Hay on Wye Winter Food Festival

24th & 25th Nov 24

Abergavenny Christmas Food Festival

December

Knowing that Abergavenny, Conwy and Mold didn’t get Welsh Government funding last year, regular readers might be surprised that Abergavenny has both their food festivals funded this year as does Conwy. Please don’t ask me what is happening there this year as I have not got a clue! But I am told that if a food event/festival wished to apply for funding they can do so. My advice for what it’s worth is put your case forward in a sensible and professional manner  and hopefully you’ll get some cash!

I spent so much time last year asking about funding for the big three festivals, doing a freedom of Information questions, going back for more information but then still not getting what I thought was a satisfactory answer. Then I had to go to the Information Commissioners Office but then had to wait so long whilst they questioned the Welsh Government, that in all honesty you really would lose the will to live. Or in my case as a journalist, lose the will to keep asking questions, to then be blocked………………………….

 

 
 

Great Taste Awards 2017

02 Aug

Great Taste organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. It has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’. Quite simply the Great Taste logo is the sign you can trust when buying food and drink in your local, quality retailer. Sadly the Welsh Government dumped our True Taste Awards so Great Taste is how many of our Welsh food and drink producers now try and get some recognition.

The highest award is 3 stars.

Three stars rates: Exquisite. Wow. Taste that.

Two stars rates: Outstanding.

One star rates: Simply delicious.

We are thrilled to its to have three of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers, BOW, get the 3 star award: Welsh Vension Centre, Monty’s Brewery and Miss Daisy’s Kitchen. Plus more of our BOW were successful in attaining one and two stars, a massive achievement in the face of such strong competition.

Here is a selection of our BOW Great Taste Award winners:

 

Product Description Rating Company Name
Rack of Welsh lamb from our own farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park 3 Welsh Venison Centre & Beacons Farm Shop
5.6% Full bodied oatmeal stout. Crafted to remove gluten to less than 20PPM. Certified by Coeliac UK. Bottle conditioned. 3 Monty’s Brewery Ltd
A spicy, dry carrot chutney that’s flavoured with Nigella seeds, Turmeric and Star Anise. Great with curries, poppadoms and cold meat platters. 3 Miss Daisy’s Kitchen
Wholemeal Spelt flour made from organic British grain. Stoneground with No additives and nothing taken away 2 Felin Talgarth Mill Ltd
This is made in small batches using the freshest brown crab from cardigan bay and is 100% brown and white crab meat with no additives. 2 Cardigan Bay Fish
Made in small batches using hand-picked fresh brown crab meat a delicious tasting (not too crabby). 2 Cardigan Bay Fish
Mild soured cream made with Welsh cream 2 Daffodil Foods Ltd.
At 5.2% ABV, this amber IPA has a twist of tangerine and citrus from US and New Zealand hops, balanced on a slightly sweet, malty body. 2 Purple Moose Brewery Ltd
Venison haunch steak cooked medium-rare, lean, low in fat, healthy from our own farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park. 2 Welsh Venison Centre & Beacons Farm Shop
100% juice cider made from single variety Yarlington Mill bittersweet apples, lightly sparkling, cold fermentation using winemakers yeast. 6.0% 2 Apple County Cider Co
Organic botanical gin. 2 Da Mhile Distillery
3.9% Alc. A chestnut coloured traditional style malty bitter. Bottle conditioned beer may have sediment. Pour gently 2 Monty’s Brewery Ltd
Raspberry preserve with crushed cardamom seeds 2 Radnor Preserves
5.0% abv. A complex red-hued IPA – Crystal and Rye malts provide the canvas for an array of US hops 2 Brecon Brewing
Raw milk washed-rind cheese. 2 Caws Teifi Cheese
Organic spread made with crunchy tigernuts, real coconut, roasted cashew nuts and sea salt. For toast, sandwiches or cooking. 1 Bim’s Kitchen
A sweet, savoury syrup made with Welsh Denbigh plums, baobab and a hint of cinnamon. For toast, ice cream, pancakes, fruit or baking 1 Bim’s Kitchen
A fiery, aromatic relish\stir-fry ingredient for seafood, meat & vegetables made with coconut, chillies and spices. 1 Bim’s Kitchen
A dark red chutney with pieces of crushed chillies and chopped tomatoes.Sweet apples blend with the spice for a chutney of medium heat. 1 Welsh Lady Preserves
Artisan gluten free hand made bread with a moist texture having sunflower and other seeds added giving a slight nutty taste 1 Welsh Gluten Free Bakery Products
Everything needed to make a delicious wholemeal loaf from flour milled at our water mill using locally grown wheat 1 Felin Talgarth Mill Ltd
Smooth mackerel pate made in small batches using fresh chives and spring onion,soft cheese great served on crackers. 1 Cardigan Bay Fish
A moist cake filled with tangy orange pieces and sweet honey to give a citrus burst to a traditional welsh cake 1 Tan Y Castell Foods Ltd
This 24 month old cheddar is made at a dairy on the Llyn Peninsula then matured 500ft underground in a slate mine – giving it great depth of flavour. 1 South Caernarfon Creameries
A smooth, soft luxury Fudge with mixed Nuts, Vine Fruits and Christmas Spices. 1 Sarah Bunton Chocolates
Chocolate Ice cream rippled with a peanut crunch paste and a chocolate & Hazelnut sauce 1 Forte’s Ice Cream
Goats’ cheese Ice cream with ginger snap biscuits rippled with Amarena cherries. 1 Forte’s Ice Cream
A traditional Italian style dairy ice cream, made using local organic Welsh dairy produce. 1 Conti’s Ice Cream
Salted Caramel flavour ice cream. A traditional Italian style dairy ice cream, made using local organic Welsh dairy produce. 1 Conti’s Ice Cream
Elderflower Ice Cream. Organic Elderflower cordial is added to traditional Italian style dairy ice cream base, made using local organic Welsh produce. 1 Conti’s Ice Cream
Crunchy honeycomb pieces and a caramel sauce are added to a traditional Italian style dairy ice cream, made using local organic Welsh dairy produce. 1 Conti’s Ice Cream
Strawberry Ice Cream. Frozen whole strawberries added to traditional Italian style dairy ice cream base, made using local organic Welsh dairy produce 1 Conti’s Ice Cream
Raspberry sorbet made using real fruit and organic sugar. 1 Conti’s Ice Cream
Bio-Live Natural Yogurt, using whole cow’s milk and Bio-Live Cultures Lactobasillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium with added blossom Honey. 1 Llaeth Y Llan Cyf (t/a Village Dairy)
A smooth, rich, chocolate and vanilla stout with a balanced subtle bitterness. Brewed to 4.5% ABV. 1 Purple Moose Brewery Ltd
Homemade Venison Faggots. Made from our own farmed, red deer within the Brecon Beacons national park. our own recipe. Handmade 1 Welsh Venison Centre & Beacons Farm Shop
100% juice cider made from single variety Michelin bittersweet apples, infused with pure fresh pressed rhubarb juice, lightly sparkling. 4.0% 1 Apple County Cider Co
Chunks of Pork and Chorizo balanced with a vegetable, chickpea, tomato, and cider based broth. 1 Blas ar Fwyd Cyf
A thick, fresh pea soup with coarsely cut home-cooked ham. 1 Blas ar Fwyd Cyf
A couverture chocolate brownie enhanced with molasses undertones, almost fudge like in texture. 1 Blas ar Fwyd Cyf
Banana Cake, filled with pieces of cranberries, dense and flavoursome. 1 Clam’s Handmade Cakes
4.2% Alc. Golden ale with subtle floral and citrus hop characteristic. Bottle conditioned beer may have sediment. Pour gently 1 Monty’s Brewery Ltd
Blackcurrant & Vanilla Preserve 1 Radnor Preserves
Welsh Pinot Noir Précoce 2015 12% Vol 1 White Castle vineyard
3.8% abv dry & bitter golden ale, single hopped with a classic British hop and brewed with our unique Brewer’s yeast 1 Mantle Brewery Limited
The only British organic milk drink of its kind, schools approved, nothing artificial & flavoured with only the best natural vanilla & organic cocoa. 1 Daioni Organic

Showing 1 to 46 of 46 entries

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To see the full list of Welsh winners click here

Great Taste is the largest and most trusted accreditation scheme for fine food and drink. Established in 1994, it encourages and mentors artisan food producers, offering a unique benchmarking and product evaluation service leading to an independent accreditation that enables small food and drink businesses to compete against supermarket premium own label brands. Since 1994 over 110,000 products have been assessed. During 2016, 10,000 products were blind-tasted by panels of specialists: top chefs, cookery writers, food critics, restaurateurs and fine food retailers.

How does it all work?

In 2017 over 500 judges, including specially trained food writers inputting judges’ comments, came together at 62 judging days from March through to early July. This year the Great Taste judging roadshow took a turn at the impressive Llandrillo College, north Wales, as guests of the Welsh Government. As ever we have judged at specialist test centres for tea, filter coffee and espresso with the remainder of the judging days at Guild HQ in Dorset and our new venue and permanent home close to Borough Market, London. The judges, from all corners of the food world, blind-taste in teams of 3 or 4 ensuring we get a balance of expertise, age and gender..

What should buyers look for?

The logo. This is their guarantee a product has been through a rigorous and independent judging process. It’s not about smart packaging or clever marketing – it’s all about taste.

I can only congratulate all our BOW winners – this is proof if further proof were needed that Wales has superb food and drink producers.

 
 

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.

 
 

Welsh Dairy Farmers Have Too Much Milk

09 Jun

Welsh dairy farmers have too much milk; this is the message that has come through to me from a dairy farmer. That has got me puzzled but I’ve yet to fully check this out. However as it’s come from a dairy farmer making ice-cream it seems a reliable source. Wag’s agricultural department is suggesting these farmers use their excess milk to make ice-cream. I’m not sure if the agricultural has discussed and approved by the wag food department, actually I’m not sure if communication is live and well between government departments, but I’m guessing Wales’ ice-cream makers have not been consulted. It’s great that we have plenty of Welsh milk but it is important that our farmers find a way to make money on it.

But let me give you an example of my concern. At the recent Spring Fair, in the Food Hall alone there were NINE, yes nine ice-cream stands out of a total stand count of 58. Nine ice-cream makers and this doesn’t include the many mobile ice-cream vans that were out on the show ground. It costs about £600 for the stand alone in the Food Hall, without adding up the amount of work involved preparing product, getting home and back again, plus possibly staying there for two days. Then if your ice-cream stand is sited at the rear of the Food Hall you’re on a hiding for nothing, as visitors will doubtless have already purchased ice cream by the time they get to your stand. With competition like that, you really do have to sell a huge amount of tubs and cones to break even, let alone turn a profit. Stands are not told when they book how many of their competitors are attending, or more importantly where they will be sited, making this so much more of a gamble.

I’d be pleasantly surprised if the agricultural and food departments were in close contact, actually I’d be shocked, as only a cynical journalist could be, if that were the case. To me I’d have thought it was an obvious discussion point, but then I know nothing about the internal workings of the Welsh Government operates.

What I’m getting through though is concern for some ice-cream makers about the effect it will have on their businesses. Ice-cream is still a fairly seasonal product and I for one don’t think more ice-cream makers are needed in Wales. If the Food Hall allowed in nine ice-cream makers for the Spring Fair, how many ice-cream makers will be in there for the Royal Welsh in July, when hopefully the sun will be shining?

Now I don’t pretend for an instance to be an expert on the dairy market, truth be told, I’m not an expert on anything, but instead of pushing dairy farmers into ice-cream why were these farmers not advised to try making Welsh yogurt? Wherever you do your supermarket shopping it’s often difficult to find Welsh yogurt. So to me that means the market could do with more Welsh yogurt. However if you can track down Welsh yogurt it’s really worth the effort because the quality is always superb.

I now wait for someone to explain to me why yogurt is not a better option than ice cream ….

 
 

Ceredigion Car Parking Charges Annoying Visitors

07 Jun

Ceredigion car parking continues to be a problem.  Follows is an email I received, which I’ve shown in full as I’ve permission to do so and also the Grumpy Old Geezer item the lady is referring to.

Good morning,

I am writing with reference to the ‘Grumpy Old Geezer’ article – page 52 of your January / February magazine.

We live in Shetland and had a month touring the Lake District, Wales and down to southern England during May.  I picked up a copy of your very interesting and attractive Welsh Country magazine at a cheese farm in south Wales.  As it was out of date, we did not have to pay for it – but I was attracted by the cover.

We were horrified to find when we went to Aberystwyth harbour that cars could park for 2 hours for £2.20, whereas motor caravans – according to the little pictures on the price display board – had to pay £5.80 for a whole day with no short concessions.

We did not wish to spend the whole day there, just a couple of hours for a coffee, find the local butcher, greengrocer and baker and then be on our way.  We have no problems with paying £2.00 to £2.50 for a couple of hours parking, but £5.80 for a couple of hours parking is far too expensive.  So we asked the Satnav to find us the nearest supermarket where we could park for nothing, have a coffee and do our shopping. To our great surprise, Cardigan had the same tariffs, so again we went to a supermarket. 

It would have been good to have bought Welsh food, but at such an exorbitant cost to park, we were not prepared to pay. Having found your magazine after those incidents, we totally agree with the writer.  Sadly after those experiences, we automatically headed for supermarkets.

We did have a very enjoyable time in Wales visiting friends, but would be extremely wary about returning with a motorhome.

I would appreciate knowing this email has arrived with you and would very much appreciate your comments on the points I have made.

Thanking you,

Grumpy Old Geezer Jan Feb Issue  

Why are car parks still being used as council cash cows?

In June 2015, vandals sabotaged the council car park machines in Cardigan which meant that for a couple of weeks, trade boomed with some businesses reporting turnover increases of up to 50%. Who could imagine that vandalism would literally breathe new life into Cardigan, even for the briefest time? Like many towns across Wales, Cardigan has a predominance of small shops, some lovely coffee shops and eating places, a restored castle, plus the Guildhall. But this cash-strapped council, within two weeks had ‘found’ some spare machines and Cardigan was back to normal, basically businesses struggling because of car-park charges. These car parks showed a profit of £278k and still the Council increased these charges – you really couldn’t make this up as this council continues to use car parks as cash cows. I understood car park charges were there to maintain the car parks, but the Plaid run, Ceredigion Council appear are against free parking.  

Once the ‘new’ machines were installed, My Beloved Editor, Councillors Elizabeth Evans and Mark Cole and MP Mark Williams, then attended a traders’ organised meeting, a meeting so popular there was standing room only. A couple of Council staff attended but they didn’t grasp the traders’ wish for free parking or simply didn’t care. The traders followed this meeting with direct discussions requesting free parking – but the ‘Council Said NO’. So the traders organised an evening candlelight march through Cardigan, again attended by my Beloved Editor who didn’t see a single councillor or Assembly Member there. Further meetings followed, but the ‘Council Still Said NO’. A compromise was put forward for just two hours free parking, but the Plaid Cymru run Ceredigion County Council ‘Still Said NO’.          

However in the Senedd, last October the Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government said that there should be free parking in Welsh towns in order to keep our town centres bustling. They requested the Welsh Government to set up a new fund to enable local authorities and community groups to offer free car parking in towns throughout Wales to support local shops and businesses. Plaid Cymru recognise the importance of a vibrant and diverse high street in supporting local business owners and the local economy, realising that the lack of free parking is often a big turn off for shoppers. They understand that out-of-town developments with free parking make it impossible for the high street to compete.

The not so funny joke is what Plaid say in Cardiff and what Plaid does in Ceredigion are poles apart. Think the polite phrase is – not on the same page.

I’ve gone back to the lady and explained what an uphill battle Welsh Country magazine has had trying to get Ceredigion County Council to re-think car park charges, but to no avail. A Freedom of Information questions gave e the details that Ceredigion Car Park charges in 2015/16 was £815,988 and I was also told a surplus of £172,669 was achieved. Well now isn’t that great news folks a surplus of nearly £180k but no explanation of where that money was spent. It was my understanding that car parks were not meant to be used as cash cows for the council but income was ploughed back into car parks. It was ironic then to learn that Plaid Cymru Assembly Members in Cardiff say that car parks should be free, but seemingly no-one is telling the Plaid Cymru controlled Ceredigion Council. I wonder why that is? So more hot air from Cardiff and a council in Ceredigion that seem to do as they wish to raise cash – who have thought they were both the same party?

However my main reason though for posting this item is the fact that this lady wanted to purchase local food and drink but annoyed by unrealistic car-parking charges decides to go to a supermarket where she can park for free for a couple of hours and shop there. The fact she’d have found very few Welsh food and drink products in any supermarket is, to say the least very annoying.

Please don’t ask me what I’m going to do next about this; it’s easier to admit defeat and just give up. I, along with our Welsh food and drink producers want visitors to be able to purchase, eat and enjoy local food, isn’t that one of the excitements of visiting new places? However it seems this is too difficult to achieve. If only wag food and Visit Wales could work together they might even get on our food and drink producers Christmas card list!