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Posts Tagged ‘food festival funding’

Food Festival Funding

06 Feb

Food Festival Funding, as happens each year, I’m getting asked what’s happening about Welsh Government food festival funding. Sadly, as always, I haven’t a clue. I’ve heard many rumours, but can assure you when wag food tell me – which hopefully they will – our Best Of Welsh & Border producers will be the first to know. Plus then it will be posted on welshfoodbites.co.uk.

One producer suggested I ask the Welsh Government’s press office, which certainly made me chuckle as seemingly he’s been reading welshfoodbites otherwise he’s know that for the second time the wag press office have refused to answer any questions from me, as Welsh Country magazine. Apparently we posted on welshcountry.co.uk a press release from Open Spaces Group, but wag press office, as so many people do, visited our welshcountry website and spotted the Open Spaces post. We were then in trouble because we as Welsh Country hadn’t gone back to the press office to give them a right of reply! Apparently the press office expects a right of reply on issues/articles that relate to the Welsh Government, which they say they get from all other Welsh media. So the Welsh Government press office now class welshcountry.co.uk as ‘merely a depository for unchallenged press releases’ and believe we should make that clear on our site. I’m perfectly happy with welshcountry.co.uk, I’m thrilled with visitor numbers we get on our site and the positve feedback we get from it too! If we had the time and the staff to read through in detail every press release we post and thenh if wag was mentioned I might consider doing just that, but it seems they are ok with my chasing them up three times for a question I wanted answered. The press office appear unconcerned that we do not post any Welsh Government press releases on welshcountry.co.uk  or in Welsh Country magazine, not sure why that is……..

I find this attitude petty and pointless and achieves nothing apart from the press office trying to stamp their influence on Welsh Country magazine. This is the second occasion the wag press office have refused to answer my questions, I find it simply annoying and frustrating. So no questions answered through the press office but thank goodness the Freedom Of Information Act, (FOI), is still an option open to me,  albeit it takes 20 days to achieve that. Perhaps if wag press office were funding their own office and staff and were not being paid for by the tax payer, they’d realised how expensive and time consuming the FOI is. Yes I realise I’m being harsh and unfair as it’s unrealistic for me to expect civil servants to understand the difference between civil servants and those running businesses.

Anyway the latest news on food festival funding for 2017 is there isn’t any. Food festivals that are advertising this year will of course get our support in Welsh Country magazine, on our website and of course on social media too but if/when a list of Welsh Government funded food festivals is ‘sent’ through to me it will as always be sent around our Best Of Welsh & Border producers and then posted on welshfoodbites.co.uk.

Sorry I can’t give you the information you are asking me for but that’s the situation we are in.

 
 

Food Festival Funding

20 Jul

I’ve totally lost count of the number of emails I’ve sent to the press office asking for a list of food festivals that wag have funded for 2016. It has got more and more time consuming over the years to get this information from wag food. But why you might ask, as I obviously do? Well I haven’t a clue, it’s something I struggle to understand. Wag food have an obligation to provide this information as they are spending public money, but they have no obligation at all to be helpful and professional about doing so. Obviously I can only relate my experience, but I can say that it is annoying and disappointing.

Apparently this year the most festivals can ask for – and sometimes get – a maximum of £5k from this budget. But now I understand that festivals can ‘officially’ apply for funding from other wag budgets. Something which in the past wag food has said never happened, as festivals could only go for one source of government funding. Regular readers will recall my trying to find out which festivals got funding from the Major Events Unit, more information which was touch to getand ended up with my having to do a Freedom Of Information question. Festivals can now apply for funding in full of for ‘selected’ areas such as waste management.

The first batch of festivals being funded as of 20th June wag are:

Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival, Cowbridge (29/30 May)

Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival, Newcastle Emlyn (11 June)

Hay Summer Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye (1 July)

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron (3 July)

Cardigan River & Food Festival, Cardigan (6 August)

Narberth Food Festival, Narberth (23-25 September)

Llangollen Food Festival, Llangollen (15/16 October)

Hay Winter Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye (26 November)

Christmas Food & Drink Fair, Abergavenny (11 December)

This is the first funding tranche as the official closing date for festival funding is 14th July. Festivals should then know two weeks later, around the 28th if they have been successful or not. As to when I’ll get details of this second tranche, I wouldn’t even hazard a guess.

Each year I say things can’t get worse getting information from wag food, but I’m constantly proved wrong, so thanks wag for a lack of communication, yes even to the press. All I want to know is which festivals wag food are funding, how much they are getting, which festivals have applied and not been successful. I like to know this information and I say early because we often put information on welshcountry.co.uk and welshfoodbites.co.uk. As a company we always also send this food festival information to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, firstly because wag food don’t do so and secondly because our producers are interested to know who gets what, which is fair enough as it’s our money. So I get this list last week of nine festivals that have been funded and four of them have already been and gone!

Food festival funding was a question I got asked about on Monday at the RWAS, but I could only relay the info. I’d got however did suggest producers could ask wag food staff. Of course I was being silly as it seems like me our producers have little idea who wag food staff are.

Wag food must have their reasons for changing the food festival funding again, but they are reasons they are not sharing, purely because they don’t have too, rather than no-one would be interested. But to only get the first list of festivals mid July is not a great deal of use. Yes of course it makes me cross when Welsh Country magazine set out its stall – sorry poor pun – to promote Welsh food and drink. I don’t know which festivals applied and got rejected. I still don’t know how much the likes of Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy festivals have been funded this year either. Perhaps wag food think I haven’t a right to know this information, but if they don’t tell me then I’ll have to send through another Freedom Of Information question. But why should this be necessary?

I was further insulted by wag food last week when they didn’t even send me the press release relating to food festival funding, although it was sent to other Welsh media! This is despite their promise that Welsh Country magazine would receive all food and drink press releases. Welsh Country magazine, the pan Wales magazine that has supported/promoted Welsh food and drink for over a decade is left off wag food’s press mailing list, who would believe that?

Do you think I should take this latest insult personally………………….?

 
 

Gorseinon Food Festival

28 Apr

Happy 5th Birthday Gorseinon Food Festival and what a birthday it was too! Ian and I have been attending this event for many of those five years and the reason for us taking this three hour round trip is that this festival doesn’t just go through the motions each year, each year they wish to improve and that’s just what they do. Head Honcho Bill Sweetman and his team are focused and determined not to rest on their laurels, which is why this year, this festival attracted over 100 stalls. Many of them within a 50 mile radius and everyone of them Welsh. It was a great selection of Welsh food and drink, so well done guys!This year I was determined to have an early start and not miss anything. But the nearer we got to Gorseinon, the sky grew darker, oh dear, a wet day is not what we wanted or needed. As soon as we left the M4 there were clear AA direction signs, what a great start. The first people we met were those volunteers looking after parking and traffic flow, which is certainly not the easiest job to do, but they always manage to do it with efficiency, friendliness and a real, ‘how can we help’ instead of ‘the answer is no, now what was your question!’ There’s also a convenient Park & Ride service which always seems to work well and is certainly welcomed by the people I spoke to.

The festival is held under cover which is so often a bonus in our unpredictable weather and my goodness, as the rain came down as we walked in at 9.30, it was not required. But I did like how this even larger marquee worked as it does create a great atmosphere. When the marquee ran off the tarmac onto grass the team had arranged for wooden flooring to be laid, which worked well and just showed how much  thought is being put into this festival. The larger marquee meant more stands could be accepted and as this festival grows in popularity many new traders were pleased to get a stand. Their successful Cookery Demo was moved across to the permanent  Community building only a few yards away. Whoever came up with that idea desrves more congratulations, it was a genius move as there was also room for a few more stands there too and some lovely comfy seating too!

Gorseinon food festival provides a real family day with plenty for the kids to do so that takes pressure off the parents and gives them time to enjoy the wonderful variety of fresh produce which is literally available on their doorstep.

We had plenty of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers there. We’d emailed Gorseinon’s stand application to our entire BOW, confident that this festival is a good one and worth attending, so it was great to see so many of them there. Despite the horrendous wet, windy weather, the event was busy. I lost count of the number of circuits I did trying to at least say hello to some of our guys, as many of were far too busy to chat to me – so that IS a good festival. Happy Best Of Welsh producers are just what was needed. Of course some traders said takings were down on last year, but what delighted me was that I did not see any trader sat down behind their stand doing nothing – yippee. Many of them had samples out and once people have stopped to taste it’s down to the traders to clinch a sale. But I do accept that we’ll never, ever, ever get away from some visitors who have decided they’ve paid £3.00 to come in and they must eat at least £3.00 of whatever before they leave! Yes I say ‘whatever’ because some people don’t even ask for example what type of cheese is that before they snaffle a sample! So I do take on board that your samples cost money but I can’t see a solution. Many traders did impress me as they had some good show offers on and really did worked hard to sell them. Running a tradestand is not easy and if you haven’t done that job you really have no idea.

Now back again to Bill Sweetman, organiser extra-ordinaire, who surprised me again as he had even more volunteers, all clearly identifiable in yellow high viz vests, who first thing in the morning went around every tradestand introducing themselves and saying if you need anything, have any problems, tell me and I’ll get them sorted!!!!

There were chairs and some tables in the main marquee, which gave people and chance to have a break, but also the chance to have some delicious hot food, and there was plenty to choose from, in comfort. Although there were plenty of waste bins around I was furious that a lot of people couldn’t be bothered to take their food cartons etc. to them, just what is wrong with these people? How untidy are they? With wag food criteria frightening organisers to bits, there were not many craft stands there, but those that were there were of excellent quality and Welsh! The festival also offered printed up yellow bags which were handed out to those people that required them. Again another nice touch, and a good advert for the festival. There were plenty of flyers all over giving details of entertainment and the cookery demos. There was some great music from Loughor Town Band and The Move and I was pleased to see such a strong link that has been forged with with Gower College.

Despite coming in a 9.30, I just don’t know where the time went and I was keen to see at least one cookery demo. So I was pleased to catch local lad made good, chef Jonathon Woohway who now works in London for the St John Group. He got full marks from me for using local produce from the festival and cooking a lamb’s heart, brave move but one that paid off. He was a great chef and his demo was very popular. I was sat next to a lady writing furiously and hoping to cook his recipe for herself when she got home. I’m sure it’s a job too far, but if there was a way to run off the recipe and method, even just on ordinary paper off a computer, visitors would appreciate that. Why not charge them 10p – 20p per copy and donate funds to a local charity. Sorry, I’m getting carried away now which is what happens to me at such a good festival! Producers were clearly shown on their website too which is another regular moan of mine, then the committee made good use of social media. Brilliant job guys.

It was 4.30 by the time Ian and I walked back to the car to find our car sat in the middle of an enormous pool of water, no need to ask which one of us got wet trying to get in either! However despite spending 7 hours there, neither Ian nor I saw anyone from wag food. We met the Mayor, we met many local councillors and volunteers, but no-one from wag food, which isn’t surprising is it? Maybe some civil food servant managed to get around the festival unnoticed by any of us, or perhaps they were too busy enjoying an extended Easter holiday. Never mind this splendid festival ran well without a wag visit.

It’s pointless for me to return once again to the late notification of food festival funding, I’m getting dizzy going around in circles and wag food either don’t care, or have no wish to listen, which is a pity. I often ask on welshfoodbites why organisers take on a food festival when wag food constantly appear to work against the very festivals they have a responsibility to help. But the reason was clear to see at Gorseinon, and believe me I talked to many, many people from all different sectors, this festival runs for Welsh food producers and for their area, the community of Gorseinon. Well it did the job brilliant and brought many families and friends together and was such a help for our food producers.

Bill please pass on our thanks for a super festival, the team you have gathered together are totally amazing. I’m sorry the weather worked against you, but even that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of you all, although it certainly gave you a few more challenges that you didn’t need.

 

 

 
 

Food Festival Funding

14 Jan

Into the new year and surprise, surprise, I’m once again chasing wag food, via the press office as that ‘s how I have to make my enquiries, to allow the press office to then chase wag food. I  asked when we’ll be told what is happening to food festival funding this year.

It’s never been a priority for wag food to let organisers know where they stand on funding. The genuine worry for organisers is will they be getting funding or not, and then what criteria are wag food going to apply. Regular readers will know that I don’t believe wag food are capable of ensuring their criteria are carried through before payments are made to festivals. Last year festivals were supposed to issue press releases, which rarely happened, enhanced by the fact that some festivals didn’t even have a website, whilst others just didn’t bother to keep it updated. Some festivals didn’t even have a list of food producers attending. In my view it was another wag food shambles. Our food festivals should surely have the priority of supporting our food producers, but if organisers are not sending out basic press releases, don’t have a website or can’t keep it updated then it imply isn’t working for them.

As in previous years, Ian and I attended about 20 festivals last year. So it’s reasonable to say that we do have a good idea of what was happening with festivals and we do know as media are not able to ensure that their criteria are enforced. Despite paying two companies, CLES and Wavehill, to under take an evaluation of last year’s food festivals at a cost of £27,800 plus vat, I fail to see how they can do a decent job, let alone a good one, when they are reliant on trawling through organisers paperwork and telephone interviews. For us on the outside looking at food festivals as a whole, that amount of money would have paid for at least another 3 festivals. However the crunch is that is correct, but it wouldn’t have ticked another crucial box for wag food. One Best Of Welsh & Borders producer did tell me that they were 8-10 people from Wavehill, at Hay on Wye festival, but, although I’ve asked wag food, I’ve had no response as to whether that’s correct or not. I also asked wag food why, when the tender did not state attending festivals was required, that Wavehill could afford to send so many people to one festival. Assuming of course Wavehill was paying their people to attend! Was the wag tender so overpriced that Wavehill decided they could afford to attend Hay? Well I’m sure you can guess that this question did not get a reply either and if you are asking why not, so am I!

I’m not sure if wag food just can’t grasp that organisers need to know if funding is available, or perhaps they just aren’t bothered about putting additional stress and pressure on organisers, which is seriously heightened for those running early in the year. But year after year our organisers are put in this position and it does make you wonder why people volunteer for this thankless task. I stick by my view that wag food don’t deserve these people ‘working’ for them when they are treated so badly.

Posted 12Sep13

Is There To Be Food Festival Funding Next Year?

A food producer called in on Monday, asking if we’ve been told whether Welsh food festivals were being funded next year. Well of course I hadn’t been told anything. If I’d heard officially, meaning from wag food, I would have first emailed it around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and then I’d have posted it on welshfoodbites.co.uk

So I contacted the wag press office as I’ve been instructed to do and asked them. Their reply is as follows:

Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Any such rumours are completely untrue as no decision has yet been taken on funding for food festivals in 2014/15.”

So in true journalistic fashion, reading between the lines, I understand their response to mean, wag food have not decided officially yet, but it could well be true.

If producers need more uncertainty in their lives they can usually rely on wag food to provide it.

Monitoring & Evaluation Of Food Festivals 2013-14

Posted 080813

As you are all more than well aware, I’m not at all happy with a further evaluation of food festivals. Something to do with the fact that we are still waiting for Miller Research’s offering on last year’s festivals. I’ve been chasing for this report, but apparently it will be available of wag’s website at the end of this month, although initially I was told June.

Obviously we are not privy as to when wag received Miller’s words of wisdom. However if this report was going to be of assistance to wag this year to decide their latest criteria, you’d have hoped wag would have been pondering over it early this year, wouldn’t you? If that didn’t happen, just what is the point of spending with Miller, so I understand £43k?

Anyway still concerned about this, I asked questions under the Freedom Of Information Act on 2nd July. Questions were as follows:

When was the 2013 – 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation of Food Festivals Supported by the Welsh Government put out for tender?

  1. Which companies submitted tender applications?
  2. When was the tender awarded?
  3. What is the completion date for this tender?
  4. What is the Welsh Government paying the two successful companies for completing this tender?
  5. When will the review be published and available to the press and public?
  6. The 2013-2014 Monitoring & Evaluation of Food Festivals Supported by the Welsh Government, was this put out to open tender or from framework?

Although I’ve not had an acknowledgement, today I received a hard copy response. Puzzling why and emailed FOI warrants a hard copy response dated simply August 2013, but there we are – wag rules. Anyway their words of wisdom are shown in full:

1. The tender was issued on 30th June 2013.

2. Two companies submitted tenders for the work, Miller Research and CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies).

3. The tender was awarded on the 19th June.

4. The successful company is expected to submit a final report by 7th March 2014.

5. CLES were the appointed company, Wavehill are approved contractors carrying out some of the work in partnership with CLES. The tender value was £27,800+vat.

6. It isn’t possible to give an accurate date, however we would anticipate that the report would be released Spring 2014 for publication.

7. The tender was issued to companies on the Welsh Government Research and Evaluation Framework Lot 4 – Programme /Project Evaluation.   

So this response still raises further concerns. I’m wondering how wag issued this tender on 30th June but then awarded this same tender on 19th June. How can this be? We all know that wag ‘works’ slowly, but to award a tender before it’s actually been issued is certainly beyond them isn’t it?

The other cause for concern is the cost of these tenders and the wastage in my view of public money. Last year for evaluating about the same number of festivals, Miller got £43k. I’ve not got their report so cannot comment on its contents, but at least they did attend the festivals, so in theory, should have had a good idea of what was going on. This year, CLES with Wavehill are doing this work for £27,800, but the price difference is because these two companies are apparently doing their evaluation by phone along with feedback forms, plus organisers input. Well I know of far too many festivals that are ignoring wag’s stated criteria, but if some organisers are good at ticking wag’s precious boxes, how is this evaluation going to be worth anything? To me it seems silly and we need a system that will work and give us better, more profitable food festivals next year.

Now before any of you ask me why I keep bothering to try and get wag food to see sense, it’s quite simple. For many of our Best of Welsh & Border producers, festival and markets are a vital selling–tool for them, but neither of these sectors is really working well. The wag food festival budget was cut again this year, so it is even more vital that this budget gives value-for money, yet it doesn’t.

If only wag food could learn some lessons……….              

 
 

Abergavenny Update

02 Oct

I have obviously hit a nerve!  

Today I have received a letter of complaint from HCC stating that I am implying that HCC is corrupt.

I state most emphatically that I am not implying that at all. What I am saying is that HCC is not giving me all the facts about their spending.

HCC have been asked how much they spent overall on their stand at the Royal Welsh, no specifics, just an overall figure. This question followed comments into us from butchers, who felt that this was not the best way to promote Welsh meat. So this is HCC butchers that are not happy and have different ideas about meat marketing. This question would not have been raised unless it came from one of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers. HCC told us that this was information was commercially sensitive and could upset their stand builder. I didn’t think I was clever enough to work out how much the stand provider gets from HCC from an overall figure, but there we are. That’s financial information HCC can’t supply to me.      

Abergavenny Food Festival lost in excess of £30,000 of Food Festival Funding this year. On the Abergavenny Food Festival website both HCC and Visit Wales appeared as sponsors. My admittedly cynical view was wondering if the funding had been directed via different ‘government’ parties. So I asked questions, to be told that both HCC and Visit Wales are just exhibitors. I then asked why all the trade stands are not listed as sponsors, as this simply still doesn’t make sense.

So I am not implying or accusing any corruption, but I am stating that in my view, transparency and openness is lacking and obviously raises queries.   

 

 

 
 

Feedback On – Bridgend Feastival

01 Oct

I’ve just been chatting to a producer who attended this festival at the weekend, whilst Ian and I were at Narbeth food festival. Bridgend applied for funding from the Welsh food festival budget of £9,500 and were fortunate to received £9,000. What they did with that funding of course I’ve no ide,a but according to my feedback source it wasn’t spent on marketing & advertising. Their view was that the  festival was a disaster. Very few people there and those that did stumble upon the event had no idea it was taking place – think that might come under pot luck!

Yet again I’m sad and angry to get feedback like this. I have to query once more how wag food make their decisions as to whether or not to fund a festival and then work out by how much they will get. I guess they couldn’t have used the latest Miller food festival evaluation report, as we’ve only just got hold of it  – unless, unlike us, wag got their copy in January. This festival funding situation is totally ridiculous. The money wasted at all levels, simply beggar’s belief and there is no way you could possibly run a business in this sloppy manner. In one way I hope this company has not read any of the Miller report, in another if they have they’ll choke on Miller saying that producers take about £1,990 per festival. Good gracious, we don’t get told much, but often it’s total rubbish and I for one am totally fed-up with it.

For goodness wag food talk to people that know and understand festivals, – producers would be a good place to start, but in fairness to you, they’d never tell you the truth for fear of reprisals. But you should all remember that’s it is tax payers that are paying your wages. Wag food should have it’s focus on supporting food producers and food festivals are a vital part to many of their businesses.

I must apologise though, because I don’t know how many times I will have to keep saying the same things to wag food before someone in that department wakes up and takes a reality check and that’s one where the salary is NOT paid into the bank each month regardless of performance.

 

 

 
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Changes to Develop The Welsh Food Sector

25 Sep

A Best Of Welsh & Borders producer kindly gave us the nod that the Minister, Alun Davies was presenting a statement on Tuesday. We chased the press office and they promised to send the statement when it was officially released. True to their word they did just that – they were very helpful, so much so Ian rang to thank them and then we sent an official email through with praise for the Press Team member for doing a great job. This is a system we’ve used for years and I dubbed it ‘Brickbats & Bouquets’ we purposely use both but sadly it is more brickbats than bouquets!!!!

All our Best Of Welsh & Borders, (BOW), producers were sent the précis of the Statement from the Minister of Rural Resources yesterday and today they’ve been sent the full statement. I know some of them will think it is more hot air and I’d be the last to disagree with them, BUT if producers want changes made then you can hardly expect the government and civil servants to know what they are unless you tell them. Ok I can hear you muttering that you don’t wish to stick your head above the parapet but if that’s your view accept that things will stay much the same or get even worse, or if you are with us on BOW, pass your views to me or the team, and I’ll send them through on your behalf.  

Ian and I actually watched the debate on our computers and have a few comments  which may give a little more depth in certain areas.

Not included in the written statement was a comment from the Minister was that he wanted to support Welsh companies and not others by a circuitous route, which we interpreted that there will be changes in Food Festival funding, but who knows? This year the criteria for funding is for 75% Welsh Food stands but on a number of occasions has not been met. At Abergavenny last weekend they had less than 50% Welsh Food stands. We’ve raised this 75% minimum with wag but wherever that is even acknowledged remains to be seen.  

There was little discussion and twice the Minister commented that both the Conservative and Liberal Food Spokespersons did not put up any objections, which the Minister seemingly took as their approval. Maybe it could be the case that after having reread the statement that there is little substance to argue or discuss. I can only hope that the promises of wider industry discussion and consultation is upheld and micro and smaller businesses are not again excluded with wag using only their supportive companies and the usual loyal faces. We’ll keep you informed as and when we hear any further news.

The majority of comments from the floor, were about Food Festivals with concerns about their sustainability and that festivals should not be put out to grass.

Statement By The Welsh Government

Title: Developing the Food Sector in Wales    

Date: 24th September 2013    

By: Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

In July I gave Members an assurance that I would make a statement immediately on our return from recess to outline how I intend to take forward the development of support for the food industry. Today I want to share my thinking and to outline a timescale within which I will make my proposals for growth throughout our food industry.

Wales is one of the best performing countries within the European food retail market with over six percent growth in food and drink sales last year.  Agriculture, fishing and food manufacturing combined have an annual turnover in excess of £5.2 billion.  The story is a good one but there’s more that can be done.

My vision is that by 2020 the quality of Welsh food will enjoy increased international recognition,   food businesses will be more efficient and environmentally balanced with supply chains more integrated and will be adding far more value to our products here in Wales. Consumers will be making well informed choices about the affordable and healthy food they need, leading to significant improvement in public health.  My proposal is to deliver this growth through market development, job creation, increased sales turnover and improved GVA for Wales.  Our food sector has many advantages including high quality raw materials and natural grass-based farming systems.  But there are weaknesses, including the need to develop the domestic market, and to have a more integrated supply chain which both adds value and increases the contribution of this sector  to the wider Welsh economy.   

I see an urgent need to establish a Welsh Food and Drink Forum or Federation of people drawn from across the industry to provide strong leadership, vision and much closer working between government and business. 

My strategy will consist of targeted actions to deliver sustainable jobs and growth for Wales that are both economically and environmentally sound.  I propose building the strategy across seven key areas, allowing Wales the opportunity to position itself as a leader in the field.

Firstly I want to promote market development and growth. Both the domestic and export markets have scope for more development.  Better market information will be needed to identify the best opportunities for business and to make the right choices. 

Before the summer recess I outlined my plans for the future branding of food and drink from Wales.  This will need to serve domestic and export market needs as well as being vibrant enough to attract inward investment.  

We tested the ‘Food and Drink Wales’ identity this year with a clear Welsh identity which has been well received by the trade. The consultation will be asking for views on further development of the new identity as well as how to strengthen and sustain it.

Export markets are rewarding but challenging.  Establishing product recognition in new and competitive markets is not easy. Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef enjoy the prestige associated with the EU’s Protected Food Name designation, and other products can follow a similar route. New markets including Russia and China are showing keen interest in Welsh Lamb and we will focus our effort on securing export health certification to open the door.  

We must work much more closely with the largest food and drink businesses in Wales to understand their intentions and the potential for growth.SMEs and micro-businesses dominate our food sector and are important at local, national and international levels. Their speciality products enhance Wales’  reputation for quality food. We propose to improve awareness of the business support available to encourage growth. Foreign Direct Investment is an area where I want to make Wales the first choice for international food companies to locate their manufacturing and value added processing. 

The second area I want to address is food culture, heritage and tourism. The Welsh Government’s strategy for tourism highlights the importance of quality local food and drink. About half of our food businesses supply the tourism sector but supply routes can be complex. We must provide support and guidance and get better at communicating what we do well. We should all take pride in presenting Wales and Welsh food to the world.  

The third area is green growth. The challenge for the food industry is to grow significantly while reducing its environmental footprint, through achieving resource efficiencies in energy, water and waste management. Food sector roadmaps and the Towards Zero Waste strategy will help businesses to become more competitive by using fewer resources, saving money and offering better balanced products. In the consultation I will ask how we can use support measures, including the next Rural Development Plan, to ensure that this positive action is an integral part of capital investment.  

The fourth area is supply chain efficiency.  Businesses cite increasing costs, access to finance and distribution as significant constraints. More innovation will add value, drive efficiency and create jobs and we must use all financial instruments to best advantage. 

The fifth area will tackle the need for a more integrated  food industry.  Integrated supply chains, from farmer through to consumer, deliver fairer prices, improve communications, enhance quality and build trust. The proposed Food & Drink Federation could provide a lead on creating effective networks, for example on skills, training and entrepreneurship; on innovation; or for export marketing. 

Food assurance and resilience is another key area to address. I want to build on the good practice we established with partners and Government across the UK but I believe we can go further. I want to develop a food security and industry assurance network to improve our preparedness for incidents, and our resilience when problems occur.

The final area I want to address is health and wellbeing. Access to quality food at affordable prices is vital for us all. We all need a healthy, well balanced diet. I am working with cabinet colleagues to address these issues. Tackling poverty is this government’s highest priority. We need innovative thinking, and must build on successful initiatives like community growing and food co-ops to lessen the need for food banks. We need to ensure that people can make informed choices to support improved nutrition and healthy living. Working with the industry on product development and improving communications on healthy eating will be the key to addressing this.  

I want to take forward and lead this debate over the coming months and will be publishing a route map to set out my proposed actions and timescale. I want to lead a discussion throughout Wales and will be speaking to industry and other stakeholders to create a rich and vibrant debate about food in our society. I have briefly outlined my proposals to deliver sustainable jobs, green growth, improved health and wellbeing. 

The strategy will set  the vision for both government and industry ensuring that both are accountable for delivering results.  I will be setting out the proposed targets and milestones in the consultation and will welcome widespread debate.  I want the food industry, stakeholders and Government to work together to achieve results and I am confident that together we can set our sights high and reach beyond our expectations.  

Please can I encourage you to add comments to this post, make suggestions and start this debate. Your comments remain anonymous, yes I ask for an email, but this is not divulged to ANYONE. I can assure you that wag food and HCC have to be regular visitors to welshfoodbites because my rankings would not be so brilliant otherwise!! Please don’t forget this is your industry, your future, your kids and grandkids future too, so do make your views know, yes even if you think wag food is doing a good job……     

PS  – Fork2Fork haven’t bothered putting up this important information yet. Guess £43k for a year’s work in up dating their website doesn’t guarantee efficiency………their last post was 13th September. Gosh that must be the easiest £43k ever earned in a year. 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

True Taste – What’s Happening?

08 May

One of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers got in contact this morning and saying – not a happy bunny – sure fits the bill. This producer had been told by a source close to the Welsh Government that the True Taste is being run only for those big-boy companies that are focusing on supermarkets. As this producer rightly says True Taste is important for Wales and is one of the leading tourism tools that attracts so many visitors to Wales. However the drop in food festival funding this year does make one question just what is the wag food department thinking? Well if they are thinking, any chance that they might tell me about it?

Our producer was so angry that TT is now being directed to large businesses that can mass produce products and therefore have, in many cases no real link to tourism. This producer is hoping that Visit Wales will take over TT for smaller producers but I can’t see that happening at all.

Anyway to see what the official line is we contacted the Press Office to be told:

Further to your call I can confirm that we are currently reviewing ‘Wales The True Taste’ and further information will be made available once a decision is reached.

Now had to go back and ask for a timeline, will we know this year or next year, but it’s just another job to do isn’t it? But there again I guess it’s only me that expects to get the full story after one question!!!

However we got a prompt response to our asking for a timeline on this, which is shown below:

I cannot give you a definitive timetable I’m afraid. I am not aware either of a decision being taken and I believe the Minister has reiterated that in plenary today at the Senedd.

So it is another case of waiting until the food experts at wag, along with the Minister make their minds up. Although many Welsh producers hold great store by True Taste, I doubt very much they will have been consulted on any change to the format. So they  will just have to wait patiently until decisons are made for them. Meanwhile maybe more of our producers will head for Britain’s Great Taste. I can recall one producer telling me of a presentation their company was doing for a big supermarket and was asked what the True Taste Award was as they’d never heard of it!!!!!! Methinks TT is lacking on marketing and promtion ………………

 
 

Food Festival Funding – Wag’s Rubber Stamp Is Still Missing

11 Apr

Please, please, please stop asking me if wag’s festival funding list is out. I have NOT yet had it – promise.

My unofficial take on it is that the Minister’s rubber stamp to sign off this funding list is still missing! So until ‘someone’ finds it, we have no choice but to wait and wait…………patiently? No certainly not.

The Minister must be very, very busy as this was supposedly marked as urgent. But those of you ike me in the real world will know well enough that there’s urgent in the private business world and there’s urgent in the public world, but sadly these are woefully not the same.

Let me remind you all again that if you are one of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, as soon as we are sent the funding list, you will all be emailed it!!!

 

 
 

Food Festival Funding

05 Apr

After waiting for the wag festival funding list to arrive as promised on w/c 1st April, which means it may be the 5th.

Not hearing from wag food, I emailed this afternoon to be told they are awaiting ministerial approval. No further detail given. I’ve gone back again asking when will I have this information and now been told basically they don’t know when the minister will approve although it is marked ‘urgent’

Apparently the best idea is for food festival organisers is to contact wag food direct, sorry but there’s absolutely no point in any more people pestering me for information. I don’t have it!!!!!!

I’ve said that once we receive the list we’ll send if around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and that will happen – promise. Now there is nothing else I can do. Please don’t shoot the messenger, I’m only relaying what I’m told from wag food. I’m sure they meant it when they told me this will be out w/c 1st April, but I should have known better shouldn’t I?

I’m only sorry for organisers who find waiting for news of wag funding so stressful. I really do wonder why so many of you take on this so often thankless role.