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Posts Tagged ‘Marcus Sherreard’

At Last Wag Has a Full Board

30 Jun

I received this press release this afternoon from wag and have published it in full:

Food & Drink Action Update
A year since Towards Sustainable Growth was launched, the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans today provided an update on progress to deliver the priorities of our action plan for the food and drink industry in Wales.

The update included significant work to redefine the Bwyd a Diod Cymru Identity, which will encompass the diversity of the food industry and champion and celebrate the Welsh language. We have also launched the new Food and Drink Wales website, to improve two way communications with industry, as well as the Food Tourism Action Plan for Wales which will result in much closer working between Food Division, Visit Wales and external partners to create opportunities for food producers and tourism businesses alike.

The Minister said, “The plan has been, and continues to be, about action. It is predicated on partnership between government and industry. We are a pro-business government, working closely with companies to create growth and jobs in every part of Wales and we established an overarching and challenging target of 30% growth in sales by 2020 and we are on course to achieve this target.”

The latest priority sector statistics for farming and food reported £5.8bn turnover which means that we have already achieved 11.5% growth since 2012-13.

To support business growth, Rebecca Evans today announced the development of a Micro-Business Cluster programme to ensure that we dedicate support for the smallest businesses to ensure a sustainable pipeline of new businesses, and the development of a new Impact Business Cluster programme, that aims to target businesses who are looking to grow at a rate of 50% a year. These programmes will have business leaders at their heart, and who will help shape and lead their development.

This follows a recent announcement of investment over £2.5m during the next two years to ensure Wales continues to have a strong presence at a series of key UK and international trade events. This support will continue to enable our companies to enhance their profile, build market share and maximise their sales in both existing and new markets.

In 2014/15, as a result of their participation in the UK and International events programme, Welsh companies secured nearly £6m additional business, with further opportunities identified of over £16m.

The Minister also used the opportunity to announce the new members of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, another key commitment.

“I am pleased to announce today that following the receipt of many applications and a rigorous assessment process we have full membership to the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board. They are the voice of the industry, the voice for businesses of all sizes and the voice for the supply chain. It is vital that a shared responsibility is developed between Government and industry and this is where I see the Board playing a major part.”

She thanked the interim Chair, Robin Jones, from Village Bakery, who is now stepping down from the role saying he provided “a dynamic voice” which will help deliver “a new era of opportunity, growth and success.”

The members of the Food and Drink Industry Board Wales are:
• Norma Barry, InsideOut Organisational Solutions,
• Annitta Engel, D.B.G.E Limited,
• Catherine Fookes, Organic Trade Board,
• Justine Sarah Fosh, Improve,
• Buster Grant, Brecon Brewing,
• Alison Lea-Wilson, Halen Môn,
• David Lloyd, ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre,
• Katie Palmer, Sustainable Food Cardiff,
• Llior Radford, Llaeth y Llan,
• Andy Richardson, Volac,
• Justin Scale, Capstone Organic,
• Marcus Sherreard, Dawn Meats,
• Huw Thomas, Puffin Produce and
• James Wilson, Welsh Fishermen’s Association

Our Deputy Minister says this food and drink plan is all about action, but I disagree when it has taken since the second round of applications closed on 24th April, for us to be told who the government has appointed to its latest food board. But perhaps that qualifies as civil service action. Over two months to give the green light to five more people – none of whom are running their own businesses and people I think we’d describe as ‘suits’. I have to wonder if tax payers will feel it’s been worth the time and money spent on this action plan. This press release has already been sent around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and I’ve already been asked which of the people on this board are not paid by wag or have not been funded over the years by wag. But sure most of you can work that answer out yourself. I apologise to our BOW producers if you get this press release twice today, assuming wag food might have bothered to do that. Never mind wag food, I’m happy to help you do your job for you. Remember, Kath says communication is the key.

We are told that it’s vital that a shared responsibility is developed between Government and industry and this is where our Deputy Minister sees the Board playing a major part. What she hasn’t bothered to explain is how this will happen. We are all aware that the government and in particular the food department, cannot or will not communicate to food and drink producers, so I’m at a lost how this board will achieve ‘a shared responsibility’. Let me know what you think.

We are also told that Wales continueo to have a strong presence at a series of key UK and international trade events. Well that’s great news for those companies that get invited to these events and have proved to wag that they have potential to grow. But what about the micro and small business who often have festivals and farmers’ markets as their starting points? Well we’ve no idea what the food festival budget is this year due to wag splitting the funding list into two and I’ve yet to be given the second tranche of funding, which will not be until the end of July. But let’s assume the funding has been chopped again. Let’s also assume that wag will not explain why, after bleating on for years that festivals must be self-funding, that they have now given the green light for some festivals to apply for £25k instead of £10k. Where’s the logic there wag? How’s that self-funding? Or for the big three, Conwy, Cardiff and Abergavenny does your ruling not apply? Now to farmers’ markets, which wag are not responsible for, as that’s down to county councils, but it was ok for wag food to approve a project of £800k, initially – it ended up lots more – to look at farm shops, box schemes and markets. There must be some logic there too, but maybe I’m missing it!

Delighted to read that Deputy Minister has announced the development of a Micro-Business Cluster programme to ensure that wag dedicates support for the smallest businesses to ensure a sustainable pipeline of new businesses, and the development of a new Impact Business Cluster programme, that aims to target businesses who are looking to grow at a rate of 50% a year. These programmes will have business leaders at their heart, and who will help shape and lead their development. Now isn’t that good news? Note that this is for companies who are ‘looking to grow at a rate of 50%’ I guess that applies to quite a few companies, but in this poor economic climate how will wag judge if genuine growth is there? Bear with me as I’ve got it now, wag will have business leaders at their heart, and who will help shape and lead their development. What a pity there are no business leaders named.

My fear, as it seems to be with this government and the food department, is that wag have offered sound bites, but there’s precious little meat on this bone that will achieve a great deal and with Welsh food and drink so important to Wales we do need much more. .

Please do let me know your views and add your comments on welshfoodbites.co.uk.