Posts Tagged ‘Carmarthenshire County Council’

Update On Saputo

25 Jul

A spokesperson from Carmarthenshire County Council gave us the following news:

Dansco Dairy Ltd acquired SAPUTO early June. Dansco Dairy Ltd are a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairy Partners Ltd.  Dairy Partners Ltd are based in Stonehouse, Gloucs, one of the market leaders in the dairy industry. They manufacture and process cheese, wholesale and distribute to all the main supermarket chains within the UK and with a strong export market.

Staff numbers have reduced from 67 to 25 through both voluntary and involuntary redundancies.

The intention of the new company is to continue shredding mozzarella on site. They wish to recover the milk from local farmers for production on site. They also have major plans for investment in 2014 on site to manufacture and process a dairy product not presently manufactured within the UK. Following the aforementioned then there is every sign of future potential employment in Newcastle Emlyn mid 2014.

The new Company has been awarded a grant by the Welsh Government for the major investment.

Well let’s hope this is a wag investment that pays off!


Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival

17 Jun

Running now for the third year, this is the nearest festival to Ian and I and had to push ourselves to get there by early afternoon after a morning meeting. I have been constructively critical of this festival over the last couple of years, and one of my grumbles was lack of banners, but I was pleased to see that banners were out very early indeed, at least a month or more before the event. That was a great start. I’d like to see more banners out of course, the more visitors attending the better for everyone. I was also pleased that part of the town, around the Clock tower wasn’t closed this year, as those retailers didn’t take stands at the festival but kept their shops open instead. Great news that the organisers have knocked that one on the head as visitors into the town want to see all shops open, not sections of it closed. I spent so long chatting that I didn’t have time to walk through the town and see if shops have joined in the festival spirit, or if there was a competition for the best dressed festival window, but if not maybe those ideas that might work in the future.

More good news with last year’s previous two smaller marquees had been ditched in favour of one large one and this worked so much better. It created a much livelier atmosphere. I missed Alan from Welsh Brew tea and one of our good coffee guys because it is handy to have tea and coffee inside the marquee, especially for producers running stand on their own, regular drinks are vital for those of us that talk too much!  The organisers had also sited the marquee to where I think was a better drained part of the field, because yet again this festival was blighted by rain on and off, with the week leading up to the Saturday virtually wet and windy every day. That was rotten as the previous week had been warm and sunny, but as one canny producer said to me, “it worked out for the best for us traders as it was too cold for people to head for the beach and once the rain started, people headed into the marquee for shelter and shopped!” I have to say that it’s only the second festival I’ve done this year when I couldn’t find a sulky or a grumpy producer in the food marquee – yippee!!!!

Some bad news though which was poor feedback from the producers outside in individual tents with food-to-go. They suffered dreadfully with the weather and had a disappointing day. I appreciate it’s an additional expense, but a 3-sided tent with some tables and chairs inside would I think given them a better chance. Standing out in the rain whilst your burger or whatever is cooking, is unpleasant. Adults, if pushed will walk around munching a burger, but if there are families with children or elderly parents, it really doesn’t work at all. Ideally it would be wonderful if a local sponsor could be found to give this idea a try. I understand that there are not that many medium/large companies in the area, but maybe some arm twisting is needed here!!!!

I always recommend inviting school children to provide some entertainment at a festival and the Emlyn organisers did a great job of doing just that. They’d planned plenty of family entertainment, much of it involving local school children, which meant a captive audience of mums, dads, grannies, granddads, aunts and uncles, no wonder so many producers were smiling. Another area where the organisers scored well was not having too many stands selling the same or similar products. Often at a festival you’ll get four cheeses producers, six jam/chutney makers, five beer companies etc, which is alright if you’ve literally thousands and thousands of people coming in. But if the festival can’t attract high attendance figures, and many can’t, then the organisers must be constantly aware that the producers who have paid to be there, must sell to make their money and they can’t achieve that with a low visitor turnout and lots of competitors selling the same products. We had lots of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers in attendance and I know I can rely on them for accurate feedback, so I’m pleased to report a good event, despite the weather not really working with them in the week leading up to the big day.

The cookery demo kitchen was in action when I arrived and I was just in time to see the tail end of the demo by chef Gareth Johns from The Wynnstay, Machynlleth. Gareth is one of my favourite chefs, ok he’s not strictly local to Emlyn, but he’s not that far away either! He’s a leading light in the industry, one of our top Welsh chefs who is passionate about the ethos of good, clean and fair food. So much so he’s now a leading light for Slow Food in Wales. I’m was so pleased to hear Gareth say he was using meat from Glam Lamb, a producer at the event, and when I chatted to him later and I mentioned this and he explained his action plan. He said that when he’s invited to cook at any food festival he arrives early to make sure he can walk around the stands and select produce to cook. So I’m back on my soap box again as this is something I’ve been suggesting, but often failing to persuade festivals to do. Maybe I need to take this up officially with wag food to make it another ‘must-do criteria. Other chefs please note, it can be done and it should be done. Actually doing that on the day shows clearly the talent and ability of a chef that can think off the top of his/her head, support producers and then cook tasty dishes in front of an audience. Well done guys!

Chef Ian Williams from the Emlyn Arms, Newcastle Emlyn has to be congratulated for recommending Gareth and local chef Ludo to cook alongside him doing the demos. Chatting to Ian later he said how impressed he’d been with the quality of the food stands at the festival and he agrees with what some top chefs are saying, use the best quality produce and then you don’t really have to do much with it. So it was a thumbs up for the cookery demo area too, especially with their chefs promoting some of the producers. At the end of the day promoting producers, which means our super Welsh food too, is what a food festival is all about, and if it isn’t, then in my view it shouldn’t be running and certainly not being funded.

This festival was funded by wag; they’d asked for £5k but sadly only received £2,955 for reasons best known to wag. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when that funding meeting took place and I could have heard for myself just why some festivals got what they wanted and others didn’t. Wag and I often have different views on what constitutes a successful festival, but of course I think I’m right as I visit more festivals than their team ever does! Add to that my Best Of Welsh producers to give me their honest views and I do think I’m in touch with what’s happening out there. Thankfully Carmarthenshire County Council helped out along with a few sponsors and there was no gate charge, so that was a huge help to encourage both locals and visitors into the festival.

I didn’t get a press release about this event which is disappointing, especially as wag has that listed on their ‘must-do’ criteria list. If my local paper can do pre-event coverage I assume they’d been sent a press release, but I’m still waiting for mine……

I heard a few grumbles that there weren’t any craft stands. This was not the fault of the festival but a further wag dictat. Another one, I hasten to say I’m not totally in agreement with. My view is that the more things there are to see and do, the longer people will stay, the longer they’ll stay and the higher the chance there is that they will spend more money with our food producers. I’m guessing the reason wag have pooh-poohed craft stands is because wag are putting money in to support food not craft, but surely a compromise could have been found. Couldn’t some craft fair groups have been allowed to ‘hire’ some field space and sort out their own marquee and stands? Just a thought…

As this is one of our local festivals, we do hear feedback from ‘Joe Public’. One comment heard was that the meat did not look fresh! Meat producers please do not go up in arms, I know your meat couldn’t be any fresher, but wanted to pass this on as food for thought. ‘Joe Public’ is sadly a regular supermarket shopper, fooled into the supermarket technique of seductive lighting over meat counters so meat looks bright glossy red.  I feel sorry for ‘Joe Public’ because as an aside, I bought some beef from one of our Best Of Welsh producers at the festival. It had been hung and was  almost black. Ok, I know most people don’t want it this well hung and it is certainly not what the supermarket meat shoppers want, they’d have been horrified. But the taste was wonderful and there was no shrinkage in the oven. There’s obviously an tough education job to do and I’d like to think HCC will take that on board, but I very much doubt it. But this comment that we heard is relevant to all meat producers and independent retailers. There are no quick answers I am afraid, but give me my well hung meat any day; it was a super Sunday lunch!

I’m so relieved Newcastle Emlyn made a success of their festival despite the weather trying to work against them. They made huge improvements over the last two years and long may they continue to do so.


Recently Held Welsh Dairy & Welsh Food Summits – List Of Invitees

08 Aug

I asked Wag for a list of invitees and was told I couldn’t have it due to Data Protection. When I interviewed the Deputy Minister Alun Davies, I again asked for a list of invitees and was given the same response.

It seemed silly, pathetic and pointless to keep secret who Wag had decided to invite to these summits. So not to be put off and following my journalistic instinct I decided the only other option open to me was yet another Freedom Of Information question. Time, Waste Of  – please re-arrange at your leisure.

However a reply has been received today under Reference  6283. I think this will be of interest to you, so their reply follows in full. This has also been sent around all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers.

A list of businesses and organisations invited to both the Dairy and Food Summits.

The information you have requested is detailed below:


Companies and Organisations Invited to the Food Summit

Adventa Leslie A Parsons   & Sons Limited
ASDA Levercliff   Associates Ltd
Baraka Foods Llanllyr Water   Company
Blas ar Fwyd Llwynhelyg Farm Shop
Calon Wen Miller Research
Cambrian Training   Company National Botanic Garden of Wales
Cardiff University National Farmers Union (Cymru)
Carmarthenshire Cheese Company Elizabeth Finn Care
Carmarthenshire County Council National Trust Wales
Caws Cenarth   Cheese Ltd Panini’s
CFFI Cymru Pembrokeshire County Council
Cks Supermarket Pennard Stores
CountryLandand Business Owners Association Princes Gate Springwater Ltd
Countryside Council forWales Pub is the Hub
Cwmcerrig Farm Rachels Organic Dairy Ltd
D Gibbons & Son Ltd Randall Parker Foods
Ecostudio Riverside Community Market
Environment AgencyWales Royal Welsh Agricultural Society
F3 Soil Association
Fairtrade St Merryn Food Group
FBA Group The Authentic Curry Co Ltd
Federation of City Farms andCommunity Gardens The Drovers Rest
Federation of Community Farms & City Gardens The Hurns Brewing Company Ltd
First Milk Cheese Co Ltd Tillery Valley Foods Ltd
Food and Farming Sector Panel Tir Coed
Food Technology Centre Total Food Marketing/Menter a Busnes
Franks Ice Cream Limited Tregroes Waffles
Garden Organic Trioni Ltd
Gower View Foods Ltd Ty Nant
Howel Food Consultancy Volac
Hybu Cig Cymru Wales Cooperative Centre
IBERS at Aberystwyth University Welsh Local Government Association
Improve Welsh Perry and Cider Society
Lantra Wales Womans Food and Farming Union



Companies and Organisations Invited to the Dairy Summit

Asda Iceland
Calon Wen Lantra
Carmarthenshire Cheese Company Ltd Llaeth Cymraeg
Castell Howell Milk Link, Lladyrnog Creamery
Coleg Menai Morrisons
Coleg Sir Gar National Farmers Union (Cymru)
Co-op OMSCo
Dairy Crest Proper Welsh
Dairy Industry Steering Group Rachels Organic Dairy Ltd
Dairy UK Sainsbury’s
Dairy Co South Caernarfon Creameries
Defra (Dairy Policy) Subzero
First Milk Tesco
Food and Farming Sector Panel Tomlinson’s Dairy
Food Centre Horeb Trioni Ltd
Food Technology   Centre Ty Tanglwyst Dairy
Forte’s Ice Cream UWIC
Frank’s Ice Cream Ltd Volac
Farmers Union of Wales Waitrose
Hybu Cig Cymru Wisemans
Llaeth Y Llan Zero2Five

Congratulations To Carmarthenshire Country Council

07 Apr

Eight Carmarthenshire food producers attended the recent International Food Exhibition at ExCel London Docklands. The businesses, who went under the banner of Carmarthenshire Food & Drink on the Wales the True Taste stand, included Café Fair Trade, Calon Wen, Carmarthenshire Cheese Co, Caws Cenarth, Parsons Pickles, Prima Foods, Proper Welsh and Tregroes Waffles.

IFE is 2011’s largest gathering of international food and drink suppliers with, over 1100 exhibitors from around the world having the opportunity to showcase thousands of new products to a massive audience of UK and international buyers.

Attending the four day event proved extremely beneficial in view of the quality of potential buyers visiting the stand. Producers who attended have between them generated important leads from supermarkets, wholesalers, airlines, independent stores, delis including own brand opportunities and potential export. From initial enquiries business in excess of £200,000 per annum could well be generated from attending this prestigious event. This will have a knock on effect in ensuring the sustainability of local businesses and jobs within the county’s rural economy.

Carmarthenshire County Council head of economic development Wendy Walters said: “Carmarthenshire producers are being recognised on the international stage for the quality of their products. Buyers were seeking out the stands for specific companies showcasing their products. It is pleasing to note the continued success being enjoyed by the county’s food producers.’’

Steve Peace, director of Carmarthenshire Cheese Co, who attended the show, said: “Without the ongoing support of Carmarthenshire County Council, we would not be able to attend such events. Continued attendance is important for the development of our business and it is imperative that as a local company we attend to get our products to market to drive up sales.”

 Carmarthenshire County Council has long recognised food as a growth sector within the county and are committed to providing assistance and support to businesses whether established or a start up.

As we always do with relevant food news we receive, the above Press Release has just been circulated around our Best of Welsh & Borders producers, that are working with us in Welsh Country magazine and welshfoodbites. We’ve already had a response emailed in – gosh that was quick!! 

I was a visitor to IFE and once again saw the effort that Carmarthenshire Council puts in to promote their food producers, it’s such a shame that other councils don’t recognise the contribution that their own local producers make to the local economy, and support them accordingly. Well done Carmarthen Council

 Producer  – Caerphilly

Carmarthenshire Council certainly seems to be proactive on the food side. But where Carmarthenshire leads, will other Councils have the vision to follow? Is your council working harder for food than Carmarthenshire? Do let us know………