Posts Tagged ‘artisan producers’

‘A Sense Of Place’ For Welsh Food………

17 Apr

Just to keep you updated, follows is an extract from press release received from Wag on 30th January about their support for food festivals.

Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said, “Each year food festivals in Wales contribute millions of pounds to the economy and are a key element in promoting Wales’ burgeoning food culture and giving visitors a sense of place’. Large or small, they have their own distinct character, but with one common thread – to bring to the public’s attention the fantastic array of food and drink produced in Wales.”

The press release ended by saying:
Any financial support provided by FMDD will be limited to that which is necessary to achieve the overall objective of providing capacity building opportunities for food & drink producers from Wales as well as contributing to a broadened & strengthened rural economy”.

Well this got me thinking, or fuming, because basically I’m not sure what this press release means. Initially I would think building opportunities for food and drink producers from Wales is spot on, until I get complaints from producers saying that some festival organisers, give priority to producers from outside Wales.  But its not just a priority in allowing them tradestand space, but often they get the best sites too! So how does that work? Especially considering that this isn’t just happening at the larger, or let’s say Wag’s ‘Big Three’, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff that allow all comers in from the UK, but those that I’d class as only small to medium size events. When I have raised these issues with Wag, I’ve been told that as this funding is from European money, all
tradestands must be accepted.

But if you’re a visitor to Wales and go along to one of our food festivals, where do you expect the food to have come from, the Isle of Wight, Scotland, Oxfordshire, Yorkshire? Of course not. ‘A sense of place’ for our visitors has to mean local food, food sourced here in Wales from our superb artisan producers. Isn’t that what you’d expect too?

So why then does Wag’s press release appear to say that they are backing our food producers all the way? That
is certainly not what I hear day after day so eiother Wag is wrong or our producers are. After talking contstantly to our Best If Welsh & Borders producers, I certainly know which I believe.


Update On The Royal Welsh

19 Jul

Like many of you, I had an early start on Monday to visit the RWAS. My first stop was the Press Office to get my badge etc. McDonalds was again sponsoring the Press Room and if they had read welshfoodbites last they sadly didn’t act on any of my suggestions. As far as I’m aware coffee was not supplied by a Welsh company and the tea was, as last year, PG Tips. This is despite the fact that I told their staff about Welsh Brew tea, and where they were in the Food Hall. This year that company had three stands in total around the show ground, but McDonalds could only support PG Tips. I’m seriously unimpressed when McDonalds say they support farmers, but ignore food producers. It’s an unfair situation and would not take a great deal of effort to change it. The fact that the vending machine seemed to be a on constant ‘clean cycle’, it made for a fairly ‘dry’ press room. But whilst we waited again for coffee, it did give me a chance to catch up with one of Welsh Country’s magazine friends, weatherman Derek Brockway who was broadcasting from the show all week. With still no drinks, in the end I gave up, walked across to the Food Hall and brought back two superb mocha coffees from Preseli Coffee – a sure winner against McDonalds!!!!! The Press Office was certainly not as busy as usual with the number of journalists and photographers well down, a sign of the tough times all media is experiencing and does not look to be changing. It was disappointing to find a lack of food press releases in the press office apart from a press pack form Fork2Fork. I am not at all pleased that this sector was not looked after by Wag – surely we had endless food stories that could have been out to the Welsh media………

I browsed through lots of press reports from RWAS and under ‘Projects Completed For the Show’ and under capital at the top of the list was New Food Hall – Fit Out. I have no idea what that means but considering the Food Hall was only opened 12 months ago – it didn’t make much sense to me, and still doesn’t.

Now if like me, you believe that Wag never listens, you will have been delighted to see the new layout in the Food Hall. This was proof, at least on this occasion, that Wag not only listened, but actually reacted in a positive manner. They took the time and trouble to ask for producers’ comments and suggestions, listened to what they said and then acted upon them. This is great news and a huge step forward. Sadly I have no proof that Wag read welshfoodbites’ post on last year’s Food Hall fiasco, but the important point is that Wag realised the layout was wrong and did something about it. Well done Wag.

It’s difficult and unfair to say at such an early stage how the new layout worked, but I’ll get feedback through on Friday I’m sure when the producers at last get home. I’m still not totally happy with Wag though as I wished they’d put some tables and seating in the centre area, which was empty apart from some pop-up banners. There was space also opposite the loos and some tables and chairs could have fitted in there. There were lots of visitors that were stood in groups chatting and I’m sure they would have appreciated a coffee, tea, cake and a sit-down and have a break. I find it odd that this new Food Hall was planned with no thought for a seating area, even just outside. There was such a fantastic array of Welsh produce on display, but impossible for people to be able to buy that food and eat it easily. But, having said that, I cannot believe that anyone wandering around the Food Hall would not be impressed with the wonderful array of food from the artisan producers. Well done guys.

I believe the gate was down by about 4,000 people but I do hope that doesn’t happen for the rest of the week and the food producers have a good week in the Food Hall.
I also made two visits down to the Farmers Market and congratulate Steve Shearman and Ralph’s Cider who between them got some smart tentage, this area certainly looked better and they had some great produce too. There were also some tables and benches with umbrellas which many people took advantage of.