RWAS Food Hall always raises complaints, comments, moans and groans. It take up a great deal of our time and really is proving fruitless. So my final ploy was to send in a variety of questions, raised by you, our Best Of Welsh & Border producers. Here they are:
1. I am told that it is wag who decides which stands get into the Food Hall. So who in wag is responsible for this selection?
2. Who then decides where stands are then sited? Fernleigh say it is not them as do RWAS, so who is/are the decision makers for RWAS?
3. Why, when some stands were sited in a sensible slot last year, are they then moved to the bottom of the Food Hall?
4. Was it RWAS that thought it sensible for a Cornish mobile ice-cream van to be sited once again this year outside the Food Hall? Did anyone in power not think it stupid to highlight a Cornish mobile van outside the Food Hall? I’m told this van was so busy again this year, being in such a prime spot, that they didn’t use a cash box simply threw all their takings in a plastic bin!
5. Can you confirm that Cywain Agri, a Menter a Busnes scheme I think, which was sited at the bottom of the Food Hall, did wag offer them a free stand?
6. If that is correct, who authorised that free stand and why would anyone think that fair?
7. Why was Alun Davies taken to Cywain Agri stand on Monday? I saw him there, but did he then tour then remaining immediate stands, let alone the other 49 stands?
8. I understand one stand was Cywain Fisheries/Channel Fisheries – a huge wholesaling business from Devon but have opened an outlet in Cardiff – Fish at 85, who don’t answer their telephone, but have been heavily funded by wag but not sufficient to pay for staff to take phone calls. So does one outlet in Cardiff qualify that company under wag rules for a stand, despite wag throwing out Welsh prime producers. Is that correct? Does it really give visitors in the Food Hall a good impression of Welsh food when they see a sign for CHANNEL Fisheries, it’s an obscure message for wag to send out.
9. Were Cywain Fisheries also given a free stand by wag? Then were they allowed to offer it to a separate company each day to also exhibit free of charge?
10. Are wag looking now purely for larger companies even if their main core business is not based in Wales?
11. Apparently one question on RWAS food hall form was about why you want to come into the Food Hall and when one company said honestly to make-money, they weren’t accepted. So producers now have to learn how to be more clever/subtle in filling in wag forms, telling wag what they want to hear which seemingly Cywain Fisheries did perfectly!
A Welsh Government spokesperson responded as follows:
- Decisions on which stands featured in the Food Hall at this year’s Royal Welsh Show were taken by the Welsh Government and RWAS
- Positioning of the stands within the Food Hall was decided by RWAS and Fernleigh.
- The positioning of the ice cream van on the Showground was decided by RWAS.
- No food producers in the Food Hall were given a stand free of charge.
- The Minister visited the Cywain Agri Stand after accepting an invitation to launch the Welsh Fish campaign. He then had limited time to visit other stands before attending his next engagement.
- The Welsh Government’s policy is to fund those eligible food producers who are looking to grow their businesses.
- All food producers have to apply for space at the Food Hall and have to complete a universal form. These forms are duly assessed and a selection is made.
I’m fed-up of going around in endless circles, but in one of my many pointless efforts to get to the truth, I’ve gone back again to ask why, if wag are paying for the Food Hall, then what has that to do with RWAS as to which companies go in there? Why should RWAS have any input in the allocation and positioning of stands?
As for the positioning of a Cornish ice cream van outside the Food Hall, I can only sum up RWAS as clueless and thoughtless. How can RWAS not think about Welsh producers/farmers first, or that any Welsh ice-cream producers have a mobile van? There again if Cornish ice-cream are paying RWAS for at least three mobile guess that RWAS can still count the money in their coffers. But even more irritating, is why wag are so passive as to allow this to happen for two years running? Wag Food department what is your purpose? No answers on a postcard or by email either as I know just what you’ll say on this: Welsh producers and Welsh farmers first!
My information on some stands getting in free was from a good source otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered raising the question in the first place otherwise. But as wag’s answer, I’m really not sure. Then there was another Best of Welsh Producer on the ball on RAWS Food Hall post, which shows how much it means to many of them. I’m told ‘no food producers were given a free stand’ which some of us now think it means that co-ops/menter a busnes schemes, who are certainly not primary producers themselves, might still just have had a freebie stand. Isn’t it sad that we have lost so much trust?
Well folks, it’s clear Welsh Country magazine and welshfoodbites are not supporting and promoting Welsh food, even after over eight years of trading!! For some reason I know nothing about a Welsh Fish Campaign. I certainly didn’t find a press release in RWAS Press Room, nor have I been sent one from wag, so it seems like it’s another wag food secret. It’s not much of a campaign apart from wag funding more fishery companies, whose faces fit. The Minister seems to visit visits stands that wag’s put money into, so more mutual back-patting, but no-one in wag appears to think how other producers view this, or seems not many care either.
It’s a good job we do.
The Welsh Government’s policy is to fund those eligible food producers who are looking to grow their businesses. Fine now, all our Best Of Welsh & Border producers can be told how to fill in their future applications to stand a chance of being accepted.
All food producers have to apply for space at the food hall and have to complete a universal form. These forms are duly assessed and a selection is made. But that doesn’t explain why RWAS have such an input into selection when wag are paying heavily for the Food Hall? Who’s in charge in this selection process wag, or RWAS. I didn’t realise that RWAS were experts on Welsh food producers so can I have the names of people involved in this important selection on all sides please?
I’ve just had a sensible and practical suggestion from one of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers with the idea that producers are only allowed in every two or three years if the Food Hall is so oversubscribed. Maybe that’s a way of giving more producers a fairer crack of the whip. Otherwise I still think that wag should fund a tent as a Welsh Market and allow genuine professional producers that are ‘barred’ from the Food Hall an alternative. As their only other options are the Farmers’ Market – if they qualify – or Glamorgan Hall. I’m sure though that nothing will improve and nothing will change with this sort of attitude.