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Posts Tagged ‘Welsh Government’

Welsh Food Pop Up Shop In Conwy Bay

08 Sep

Welsh Food Pop Up Shop In Conwy Bay

Welsh food pop up shop in Colwyn Bay  – this is such good news. I received details of this project yesterday and wanted to make sure that as many producers as possible got to hear about it. Please don’t tell me yet again that this is not my job, I know that, but if it involves Welsh food and drink then I find it hard not to share! As is our standard practice, we’ve sent a mailshot to our Best of Welsh & Border producers. We’ve also passed our favourable comments onto a few of ‘our friendly Assembly Members’ too.

Here’s the press release in full:

This could be your chance to win a shop/production area!!

Currently working from home and running out of space or your workspace is becoming a bit of a squeeze?Do you need that little helping hand in taking the next step from kitchen table top to produce/shop space? We understand that taking the next step can seem risky and daunting but in order to grow, develop and expand into a sustainable business you just need that extra space to produce, retail, export and/or sell.

After a successful pop-up food shop ‘Natural Conwy’, a project supported by Dyffryn Conwy Naturiol which celebrated and promoted food producers of Conwy in 2016.  We are now able to offer the exciting opportunity to food producers of North Wales.

Exciting Future

We have earmarked a retail unit in the heart of Colwyn Bay which can be used solely as a retail space, a production space – or both. Colwyn Bay has undergone millions of pounds worth of regeneration over the last few years and was recently named as one of the most visited beaches in the UK.  It’s not just the seaside that draws people to the town. There’s also award winning Chef Bryn Williams’ Bistro ‘Bryn Williams at Port Eirias’, the recently upgraded The Station, renowned for its good food and friendly atmosphere, Fresh Hut, a new local food initiative serving up fresh, healthy meals and snacks and The Bay Hop, a micro pub that’s become a firm hit with the local community for its range of local beers and lively music sessions. Further investment also means that in 2018 Conwy County Borough Council will be moving around 750 staff into their purpose built office building – which is located directly opposite where your retail / production unit will be.

Local Demand

With the demand for locally produced foods and edibles ever increasing we have identified that there is a need for local produce and a need for spaces for local producers to produce!

The pop-up producers project 2017 is a Welsh Government funded project that will start in September 2017 and will be funded until September 2019. The project is supported by Colwyn Bay TownScape Heritage Initiative, Amaeth Cywain Agriculture and Conwy County Borough Council.

A versatile shop space in the heart of Colwyn Bay which can be used as production space only or as production and retail space.

First 12 month rent free

Business rate relief

Year 2 half rent

Contribute to the final design of the layout of the building using their proposed plan to guide this process.

Year 3 – We know by then that you will be a sustainable business model so we will hand over the responsibility of rent and rates to you.

We are particularly keen to hear from producers who are bread makers & bakers, however, we will consider and encourage application from all food disciplines of food and drink production.

How to Enter

We ask that you download the application form (from the web page url above) and demonstrate the development of a sustainable business model over the next 3 years.

We ask that all interested parties visit the space to check the suitability of purpose. Please contact Judi Greenwood on 07717 543 304 to arrange a viewing.

Deadline for applications: 5pm, Friday, September 22, 2017

Please email your completed application form, or for any questions or enquiries please contact: Alwen Eidda: alwen.eidda@menterabusnes.co.uk or Sarah Wilkie: sarah@shcreatives.co.uk

I am so pleased that the Welsh Government has funded this project as I was interested in the initial Welsh food pop-up food shop ‘Natural Conwy’. What I’d like to know is which people are judging this competition and how they are going to assess the applications. I can only hope that it is judged purely on merit and the winner has potential for future growth and employment. This is such an exciting project for Welsh food and one I’d like to see running across Wales, not just in Conwy. But having said that, I’m impressed that Conwy has not only tried something different, but that it’s been successful and they’ve been able to move the project forward. It’s great to post a good news story on welshfoodbites……………………………

 
 

Welsh Food Festivals

07 Aug

Welsh food festivals, give you the best of Welsh food and drink.

This is the list of Welsh food festivals being funded by the Welsh Government for 2017/18.  I have been asked to clarify my wording ‘being funded’ as the festivals listed are not being FULLY funded by the Welsh Government. The situation is that festivals are allowed to apply for some funding – the maximum this year is £5k  – and if the festival fits the Welsh Government’s criteria and wag agree that will be awarded the amount when all their paperwork has been sent into wag and verified. I’m more than happy to clarify that and sorry again for not knowing how much each festival was awarded this year.

Apologies for delay in posting this list but I’ve only just received them! Anyway better late than never!

Food Festivals 2017:

Caernarfon Food Festival

13th May

Wrexham Food Festival

13th & 14th May

Cowbridge Food Festival

28th & 29th May

Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival

10th June

Brecon Food Festival

1st July

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival

9th July

Clwydian Range Food Trail

Aug 2017 to Mar 2018

Big Welsh Bite

5th & 6th August

Cardigan River and Food Festival

12th Aug

The Denbigh and Flint County Show

17th Aug

Newtown Food Festival

2 & 3 Sept

St Fagan’s Food Festival

9th & 10th Sept

Abergavenny Food Festival

16th & 17th

Valleys Festival

23rd Sept

Narberth Food Festival

23rd & 24th Sept

Neath Food Festival

29th Sept to 1st Oct

Denbigh Plum Festival

7th Oct

Llangollen Food Festival

14th & 15th Oct

Gwledd Conwy

27th to 29th Oct

Llandudno Christmas Fayre

16th to 19th Nov

Hay on Wye Winter Food Festival

24th & 25th Nov 24

Abergavenny Christmas Food Festival

December

Knowing that Abergavenny, Conwy and Mold didn’t get Welsh Government funding last year, regular readers might be surprised that Abergavenny has both their food festivals funded this year as does Conwy. Please don’t ask me what is happening there this year as I have not got a clue! But I am told that if a food event/festival wished to apply for funding they can do so. My advice for what it’s worth is put your case forward in a sensible and professional manner  and hopefully you’ll get some cash!

I spent so much time last year asking about funding for the big three festivals, doing a freedom of Information questions, going back for more information but then still not getting what I thought was a satisfactory answer. Then I had to go to the Information Commissioners Office but then had to wait so long whilst they questioned the Welsh Government, that in all honesty you really would lose the will to live. Or in my case as a journalist, lose the will to keep asking questions, to then be blocked………………………….

 

 
 

Smaller Welsh Food & Drink Companies To Benefit From €1.8million Boost To Increase Global Competitiveness

25 Jul

Smaller Welsh Food & Drink Companies To Benefit From €1.8million Boost To Increase Global Competitiveness, now if some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, do not take advantage of this €1.8million programme – I shall be very cross………………………………………..

This press release came through this morning from the Welsh Government and is published below in full:

Small and medium food and drink businesses in Wales are set to benefit from a €1.8million programme to help increase their competitiveness in global markets.

Wales will become the latest nation to join the Atlantic Area Export Project, which supports businesses from across the Atlantic Arc to work together to overcome the barriers smaller businesses in the sector face when they try to expand into international markets. Currently over 72% of food and drink exported directly from Wales goes to the EU. This figure is much higher for Welsh red meat, where 90% of exports go to the EU. The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, will make the announcement during the second day of the Royal Welsh Show.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

“We’ve seen Welsh companies become global brands, such is the high quality of food and drink we produce in Wales. We want to help more small companies break into new markets. Today’s announcement will help them to do this – just one breakthrough can be a real game changer, providing a significant boost to our rural economy.”

Exports of food and drink have grown by almost 20% in the past year.

The latest boost to smaller businesses follows the Welsh Government’s announcement in March that £21million would be made available through Project HELIX to help smaller food manufacturers in Wales increase production and reduce waste. Since then the project has supported 162 small and medium sized businesses and safeguarded 120 jobs. The Welsh Government has committed to investing £2.4million over the next two years to expand the food and drink industry’s export market and raise Wales’ global profile. As part of this commitment, the Cabinet Secretary will today announce the successful BlasCymru/TasteWales event, which brought global food and drink industry members to Wales to connect with Welsh food and drink producers earlier this year, will be returning in 2019.

The announcements come as initial findings from research undertaken by the Welsh Government on UK consumers views on the value of Welsh products, found 8/10 shoppers prefer to buy Welsh products and 75% think Welsh food equals excellent quality.

The Cabinet Secretary added:

“We will continue to push the UK Government to prioritise full and unfettered access to the single market and avoid any new barriers which impede Welsh food and drink businesses from operating effectively. There are many opportunities and we are supporting our food and drink sector to be in a position to make the very best of these.”

Now some good news to update you on, I actually received an invite from wag food to attend the Minister’s speech today and also offered tickets to the show ground!! That was a welcomed invite, even though as accredited press for RWAS I was officially allowed to turn up anyway. Well with her busy schedule, the Minister was obviously not going to have a chat with me after her speech and more importantly, neither was she likely to book 12 pages of advertising for our next six issues, so I just couldn’t justify another day at the RWAS to listen to a brief speech. However any help for Welsh food and drink producers, provided there is lots of guidance and back-up too, is welcome news for me.

I’m not sure why Taste Wales will run next in 2109 and not next year, but it does seem to have been effective.

Now my final update is to say wag food also invited Ian and I to the Business Lounge above the Food Hall. Well not having been in this hallowed area for many years – and even then we weren’t officially invited, but press passes can still get you into many places – and the improvement in that area was amazing. You are all well aware how hard Ian and I and the team here work to promote Welsh food and drink and our BOW producers, I’m constantly saying we produce the best food and drink and that display was proof indeed. It was a magnificent showcase. We’d many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, in there and that was so good to see. Buster of Breconshire Brewing needs a pat on the back too as the number and quality of drinks shown was first class.

With wag food having invited so many buyers, I think in excess of 200, but if only a proportion actually attend, it is still much needed and a way forward. Hopefully serious discussions will ensue and then orders will come through thick and fast. If producers what to go the supermarket route then this wag food help is to be welcomed, it really was an impressive showcase. I asked wag food if the likes of Aldi and Lidl had been invited and they had, so it would be good to see more Welsh products in these two supermarkets in particular as they are so strong across Wales. Deli chains had also been invited, which I was also pleased to hear as I know that’s an area many or our BOW are interested in, but not always finding it easy to crack.

Welsh Country magazine for some reason known only to wag food, has not always found ‘dealing’ or working with them easy and it’s certainly not been trouble-free. This has been more than frustrating. Our agenda, apart from gaining advertising so we can continue publishing, is to support not only our BOW producers but to support Welsh food and drink. Welsh Country is the only pan Wales magazine and the only Welsh title that is promoting Welsh food and drink so to me at least, working together should be an obvious.

This press release was sent around of BOW producers this morning and I hope wag food are pleased I’m helping them with their publicity for free! But truthfully, we promise to keep our BOW producers in the loop – if we are kept in the loop………………

But I’m sure you’ll agree that this is, for once, is a positive post and we are hopeful that life will become easier for our Best Of Welsh and Borders producers, whatever level they are trading at.

 
 

Welsh Dairy Farmers Have Too Much Milk

09 Jun

Welsh dairy farmers have too much milk; this is the message that has come through to me from a dairy farmer. That has got me puzzled but I’ve yet to fully check this out. However as it’s come from a dairy farmer making ice-cream it seems a reliable source. Wag’s agricultural department is suggesting these farmers use their excess milk to make ice-cream. I’m not sure if the agricultural has discussed and approved by the wag food department, actually I’m not sure if communication is live and well between government departments, but I’m guessing Wales’ ice-cream makers have not been consulted. It’s great that we have plenty of Welsh milk but it is important that our farmers find a way to make money on it.

But let me give you an example of my concern. At the recent Spring Fair, in the Food Hall alone there were NINE, yes nine ice-cream stands out of a total stand count of 58. Nine ice-cream makers and this doesn’t include the many mobile ice-cream vans that were out on the show ground. It costs about £600 for the stand alone in the Food Hall, without adding up the amount of work involved preparing product, getting home and back again, plus possibly staying there for two days. Then if your ice-cream stand is sited at the rear of the Food Hall you’re on a hiding for nothing, as visitors will doubtless have already purchased ice cream by the time they get to your stand. With competition like that, you really do have to sell a huge amount of tubs and cones to break even, let alone turn a profit. Stands are not told when they book how many of their competitors are attending, or more importantly where they will be sited, making this so much more of a gamble.

I’d be pleasantly surprised if the agricultural and food departments were in close contact, actually I’d be shocked, as only a cynical journalist could be, if that were the case. To me I’d have thought it was an obvious discussion point, but then I know nothing about the internal workings of the Welsh Government operates.

What I’m getting through though is concern for some ice-cream makers about the effect it will have on their businesses. Ice-cream is still a fairly seasonal product and I for one don’t think more ice-cream makers are needed in Wales. If the Food Hall allowed in nine ice-cream makers for the Spring Fair, how many ice-cream makers will be in there for the Royal Welsh in July, when hopefully the sun will be shining?

Now I don’t pretend for an instance to be an expert on the dairy market, truth be told, I’m not an expert on anything, but instead of pushing dairy farmers into ice-cream why were these farmers not advised to try making Welsh yogurt? Wherever you do your supermarket shopping it’s often difficult to find Welsh yogurt. So to me that means the market could do with more Welsh yogurt. However if you can track down Welsh yogurt it’s really worth the effort because the quality is always superb.

I now wait for someone to explain to me why yogurt is not a better option than ice cream ….

 
 

Freedom Of Information Number 10621

02 Jun

Freedom of Information questions are my only way of getting answers. On the 29th July 2016 I an FOI, a Freedom of Information question. I didn’t receive a full reply to all questions but was told by wag that I could apply for a ‘review’, which I did. The Welsh Government then replied to my request for a review which they turned into a ‘complaint’. Follow that if you can. The speed of which wag turns a review into a complaint is far quicker than my getting answers to my questions raised on 29/7!

Check out my post of 24th August for an update on this troublesome FOI. But here it is:

  1. Have all Welsh food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k?
  2. If not, what did each festival receive?
  3. Did any festivals apply for funding and were refused?
  4. If so on what grounds were they refused?
  5. From which budgets or other sources of wag funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
  6. What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?
  7. Can you clarify why wag are listed on Abergavenny’s website as a partner?
  8. Can you clarify why Conwy’s website states supported by wag with 4 wag logos? Are four logos mandatory? Or does it relate to the various wag sources they have taken funding from?
  9. Although the deadline for completed applications is the 14th July 2016 and requests were being approved within 2 weeks, there are still only nine festivals listed on Wag’s website can you inform me of the others that have been approved?
  10. As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

This has been not only been annoying and time-consuming for me, but a total waste of tax payers’ money and I lay the blame for that firmly at wag’s door. I ask them to consider what they have achieved in this 10 month stand off? Unlike me, Wag like ICO are not spending their own money and for a purported ‘fair and open’ government, why can’t they just answer questions when asked? As a journalist I shouldn’t have to use FOI, but as I’m banned from asking the press office questions, I’ve not many options left! Despite my ‘complaint’ wag still hasn’t given me answers that I find acceptable to questions 5, 6 and 10. So my last option was to go to the Information Commissioner’s Office, ICO, always I must say, a pleasure to deal with. However it was only on 22/5/17 that I got my reply – 10 months later – as ICO had to keep going back to wag. Here’s their response:

As confirmed in my email of 21 March 2017, the focus of my investigation concerned whether the Welsh Government had complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA.

Section 1 – General right of access to information held

Section 1(1) of the FOIA is concerned with the general right of access to information and requires a public authority to confirm in writing whether it holds information of the description specified in the request. A public authority is only required to provide recorded information it holds and is not therefore required to create new information in order to respond to a request.

In cases where a dispute arises over whether any recorded information is held by a public authority, any investigation by the ICO must be mindful of the former Information Tribunal’s ruling in EA/2006/0072 (Bromley) that there can seldom be absolute certainty that information relevant to the request does not remain undiscovered somewhere within the public authority’s records.
Therefore, when considering whether a public authority does hold relevant information, the normal standard of proof to apply is the civil standard of the balance of probabilities. For clarity, the ICO is not expected to provide categorically whether or not the information is held, but to make a judgement based on the civil standard of the balance of probabilities as to the likelihood of whether the information is held.

Item 5

Item 5 of your request asked:

“From which budgets and other sources of WAG funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?

As you are aware, the Welsh Government informed you that it did not hold relevant information in respect of this item of your request stating that Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy had not requested or received funding for the period from January 2016 to the date of your request.

As part of my investigation of your complaint, I asked the Welsh Government to provide me with details and evidence of the search undertaken which led it to conclude that information is not held.

In response, the Welsh Government sent me screen prints of its ‘I Share’ database showing the search terms and results. The screen shots show that the Welsh Government’s searched individually for Cardiff, Conwy and Abergavenny and support the Welsh Government’s response that no applications for funding had been received/made to Cardiff, Abergavenny or Conwy.

I have therefore concluded that the Welsh Government complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA in terms of item 5 of your request.

Item 10

Item 10 of your request asked:

“As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160K, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?”

The Welsh Government informed you that the budget had not yet been allocated and therefore concluded that it held no information.

However, part of my investigation pointed out that you were aware from previous responses and the Welsh Government’s website that £85,000 of the £160,000 had been allocated, that the deadline for applications for funding was 14 July 2016, and that applications for funding were being approved within two weeks of receipt.

I therefore asked the Welsh Government to confirm where the remaining £75,000 was being allocated, and it confirmed (as it has in its latest correspondence to you) that £75,000 was subsumed back into the Food, Tourism and Culture Budget.

Whilst the Welsh Government’s response in its internal review that the budget had not yet been allocated was not incorrect, in my view, if it had confirmed the situation regarding the remaining £75,000 to you at the time of your request, it would have complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA.

However, its failure to do so represents a breach of its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA. Additionally, the fact that this information was not communicated to you within the required 20 working day timescale, also represents a breach of section 10(1) of the FOIA.

As this information has now been provided, I have concluded that the Welsh Government has now (belatedly) complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA.

Apart from the time and money which has really been wasted, I am just furious hy wag cannot answer financial questions. By the time I’m asking them the money has been given out by wag and spent. I cannot change that, all I want to know is where our money went. The further irony is I’m now expected to believe that Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy were not supported in any way by wag. Well I still find that exceptionally difficult to believe, made harder by the fact that both Abergavenny and Conwy had wag’s logo on their websites. It was so generous of both these festivals to credit wag with a logo presence when they’ve not had any funding at all from wag money pot!!! But if that makes sense to wag and to you, it certainly doesn’t to me. Best I dream on with that one……………………………

 

 

 

 
 

Food Festival Conference / Funding

01 Mar

Food festival funding, I’m still getting calls and emails asking about this year’s and I so wish people would either read welshfoodbites or ring the Welsh Government Food Department themselves. So at the risk of sounding very much like a stuck record – I do NOT know anything about wag food’s plans on food festival funding for this year and as I keep saying, if I did I’d tell our Best Of Welsh food producers by email and then post on welshfoodbites.

I have however been sent, not by wag food, but by two Welsh Country magazine supporters, details of a wag food meeting or confernece, titled Food Festivals – Building on success – to be held in two weeks time.

I note from the draft outline of the day an item headed, ‘New Funding Scheme For 2017, which will cover, Management, Criteria, Guidelines, Timescales, Next Steps and a Q & A’. So I’m assuming the food festival organisers will then know where they stand for 2017. All I can say is it’s better late than never! I’m looking forward to a festival organiser giving me an update after this meeting as I certainly cannot rely on wag food telling me what’s happening, or if a press release is sent out whether I’ll get sent one.

Please excuse my further confusion at another item titled ‘Food Festival Co-Operation Project’ I’ve no idea what on earth this might be about, or how might work and I can hardly wait to find out – no really I can’t!!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been worried, concerned, annoyed, frustrated, cross, angry, gosh I could go on for ever. But the point is markets and food festivals are the life blood of many Welsh food and drink producers. They need to know early which festivals are running which of course in many instances is related in part to governement funding. But year after years we are left waiting to find out what is happening, all because wag food cannot communicate to producers or the media. It seems in wag’s mind it’s not important that producers AND organisers know what is happening and as that seems to be the case, I might as well give up. There is nothing more frustrating than talking to, or at, ‘someone’ who is unable or unwilling to listen……………..

 

 
 

Morrisons wants to expand its food and drink supplier base.

20 Feb

We have just received news that Morrisons wants to expand its supplier base. Although this will not be of interest to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers on Friday we emailed the details through to them and the link below, despite Morrisons copy righting much of their press release.

For more details and dates etc from Morrisons follow:

https://your.morrisons.com/local/

The gist of it is that Morrison are looking for 200 new domestic food producers to supply their supermarket chain and are targeting England, Scotland and Wales. Producers are being invited to pitch to the supermarket chain in a series of 12 regional events, the first of which kicks off on 14th March in Yorkshire.

Morrisons appreciate Great Britain cannot be entirely self-sufficient in food, but by buying more local food they as a company will be able to help reduce these risks. Morrisons recognise there is an appetite to buy local – as we at Welsh Country magazine know so well – and their research shows that 67% of UK shoppers prefer to buy British. Well I’d like a 100% of people in Wales to buy Welsh food and drink, but I’d be happy with 70%!!!!!

Morrisons have 491 stores and around 2 million customers and are looking for small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones. The retailer will also be working with Members Of the Women’s Institute to source and select the best suppliers tin their area.

I’m surprised but pleased to hear a huge supermarket chain such as Morrisons re-enforce the message Welsh Country magazine has been promoting virtually since we first started publishing over 13 years ago. Of course our interest lies solely in our Welsh food and drink suppliers, that’s what we are here for,  I’m 100% behind them and I really hope other supermarkets will adopt this message.

I can only assume that the Welsh Government and the companies on its pay roll to push our Welsh food and drink producers into supermarkets are already on the case, but when I walk around supermarkets I do wonder if anyone in the Welsh Government is really promoting our Welsh producers. Of course I’m well aware that going the supermarket route is not for many of our producers, some of of Best of Welsh & Borders are happy to stay as micro businesses, but for those that do want to supply supermarkets they should be given every bit of help available as this can often by a tough, long process, but well worth the effort if it comes off.

If we have any further news, I will of course update you.

 
 

Great Taste Awards, Freedom Question No. 10815

26 Oct

Great Taste Awards are now the leading food awards in Wales following the abandonment of the True Taste Awards, of which much has been posted on this blog.

When wag – in it’s ‘wisdom’ – decided it would drop the True Taste Awards there was huge consternation amongst food and drink producers. The main sticking point was that producers were not allowed any input to wag food before they made their decision. Well let’s be honest, there’s no change there, as wag food do not communicate with producers, a fact we’ve established and tried to change, but to no avail. Our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers are always sent any food press releases I receive but that is very few indeed. But we do send around by email any food and drink related items that we think might be useful to our BOW producers. Anyway back the Great Taste Awards, (GTA). I’ve been asked so many times what is wag’s involvement and what does amuse me is producers think wag food actually tell me. Oh, if only that actually happened, then I wouldn’t have to send through so many Welsh food and drink related questions through the Freedom Of Information, (FOI)  system. But the fact of the matter is we are where we are, wag food don’t talk to me so I have no other option but to use the FOI system. Here’s my latest one and I’ve published this in full apart from the obligatorypiece where wag food tell me if I’m not happy I can ask for a review, which wag food then call a complaint and only if I’m then still not satisfied I can go to the Information Commissioners Office. So here are the questions asked and wag food’s answers:

The information you requested is below.

  1. How much money has the Welsh Government given to the Guild of Fine Food for the years 2015 & 2016?
  2. What proportion of this is targeted specifically at the Great Taste Awards?

The Guild of Fine Food has received £49,080 from the Welsh Government for the years 2015 and 2016 with £4,800 targeted specifically at the Great Taste Awards, see below.

2015/16 £44,280 19/04/15 Hosting Great Taste judging of Welsh entries

2015/16 £ 2,400 29/06/15 Sponsorship for 2015 Awards

2016/17 £ 2,400 08/04/16 Sponsorship for 2016 Awards

In June 2015, the Welsh Government hosted the judging of Welsh entries over a three day period at the St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay. The judging, which was arranged and staged by the Guild of Fine Food, hosted up to 70 judges including food writers, bloggers, chefs, producers and buyers.

  1. What were the Welsh Government’s objectives in giving money to the Great Taste Awards?

The overall objective in sponsoring the awards and hosting the judging of the Welsh entries in 2015 was to further raise the profile and awareness of the range of highly innovative, quality and great tasting food and drink produced in Wales.

  1. How were the Welsh Government’s objectives achieved?

Our objectives were achieved by inviting the press and media to the judging; having journalists and food critics visit Wales; undertaking case studies of previous winners; issuing press notices; and through social media, national and regional print.

  1. How were the Welsh Government’s objectives measured?

In supporting the above elements of the Great Taste Awards, we have been able to raise the profile of Welsh successes in the awards. More than 4.5 million people were reached through online and print coverage, measured using print and online circulation figures and radio listening-ship figures.

The Great Taste Awards website, has on average 7,500 visitors per calendar month, and featured our Welsh winners. The Guild of Fine Food promoted the Judging in Wales through their social media channel, @guildoffinefoods with 18,500 followers, and also through press notices.

Yours sincerely

Deputy Director Food Division

Well let me start at the end of my reply from the Deputy Director Food Division, well not signed which I find rather rude, but who is the DDFD? Well waste more time Kath and search Google to find out that this posh title belongs to a Mr. David Morris. But shall I ignore the fact that my reply was only dated as October – with actually no date…………………..

Anyway back to the core of this post. The bonus of sending through an FOI is that I must get a response within 20 days, which to me a long time, but I do appreciate how busy our civil servants are and I do know the timescale. However I’m looking at wag food’s figures and still wondering what this £50k over two years has achieved. To be told wag hosted the judging of Welsh entries in 2015, in Cardiff of course, for up to 70 judges, including food writers, bloggers, chefs, producers and buyers seriously made me chuckle as this is the Welsh government who have told me on a very regular basis that – The Welsh Government doesn’t engage with the blogging community. I can only assume then in this case it was the Great Taste organisers that invited members of the blogging community!

So how were wag food’s objectives achieved? Well inviting the press and media to the judging; having journalists and food critics, undertaking case studies of previous winners; issuing press notices; and through social media, national and regional press. Oh dear, so where does that leaves Welsh Country magazine? www.welshcountry.co.uk. Still out in the cold I can hear you yelling and I would have to agree. In 2015 and 2016 I was not invited to the judging as a member of press, although in 2015 I was invited to judge. I declined that offer as I had always understood GTA judges were top chefs, food critics or expert food and drink producers, so I didn’t think I qualified to judge such an important competition, but that’s another learning curve for me. I’d also like to know in column inches how much national and regional print was achieved. To say more than 4.5 million people reached through online and print coverage is vague to say the least and I’d prefer a more detailed breakdown, but there we are – that’s only my take on it.

 
 

Guess What? Another Food Festival Organiser Conference …….

23 Sep

My thanks to the thoughtful person who sent me details of a Welsh Food Festival Conference being held next month and organised by wag food. Apparently wag food are holding another conference because the one held earlier this year was such a success. It’s no surprise to me hearing second-hand about this conference because that’s how I found out about the first one. That’s what happens when you’re not on wag food’s mailing list! Wag food must have their own agenda for not telling a journalist who is so supportive of Welsh food and drink that this conference was happening. Welsh Country magazine is trying its best to back Welsh food and drink, it’s just a shame wag food don’t understand that. So of course I’m back on my soapbox about the lack of communication and just wishing wag food could grasp that communication really is the key.

Would it be too difficult to send out to food journalist the agenda and minutes or outcomes of these conferences? Sorry that was a stupid question because it hasn’t happened, wag food obviously not thinking it worth their time. After all it does take time sending out a couple of emails………………..

Wag Food sent this email out under a save the date communication. Apparently an agenda and full itinerary will follow in due course.

I can only assume it will be a fairly brief ‘conference’ as wag food tell me:

Food Festivals need to manage their own commercial decisions with regards to management, operations of their events. Each event should also maintain feedback, as part of their Quality- Systems and to maintain or better their producer / visitor experience in the future. The feedback forms do not come to Welsh Government. As you will appreciate each Food Festival is responsible to organise their own exhibiting area and food producers. This commercial situation has nothing to do with WG commissioned research and who exhibits is a matter for the said organiser.

Sure there are some Welsh food and drink producers who‘d like to be flies on the wall for that one!

 
 

Further Update On Freedom Of Information 10621

06 Sep

Well what a pleasant surprise, today I’ve had an answer, no sorry I mean reply, to my request for a ‘review’ which was not due until 19th September. Although wag’s email response is headed as a review, wag food have dealt with my ‘review’ as a complaint. Complaint, well that must mean something to wag, but nevertheless an early reply is something, answers would have been even better, but this is wag food I’m trying to get answers from. So as I’ve been asked repeatedly what’s happening with this question, here is their reply in full:

Complaint in respect of ATISN 10621

Thank you for your letter of 19 August seeking a review of our response to your recent request for information regarding funding for food festivals.

Your complaint was:

I cannot accept that the Welsh Government do not hold any information on the questions not answered in this FOI.   

I have carried out a review of our response to you of 17 August. You asked 10 questions, and I see a response was given for points 1-4 and 7-9. On points 5, 6 and 10 our response to you was that we do not hold the information requested.

I understand your complaint to be with respect to our answers on points 5, 6 and 10, and I have restricted this review to consideration of those points.

Specifically, these points are:

  1. From which budgets or other sources of WG funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?

   What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?

  1.      As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

I have spoken with officials who collated the original answer to understand what searches were undertaken to locate the information requested. I then conducted additional searches for the information requested. I have consulted with colleagues in other departments in Welsh Government who have also conducted their own searches for information.

In conducting these additional searches I have also considered the timescale you are interested in. Your first question was for:

  1. Details of all food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k?

Officials responding to your request have therefore interpreted all subsequent questions to relate to the time period of 2016 (that is all applications for funding from 1 January 2016 to the date of your request). There is some ambiguity as to whether this includes an application for funding for a food festival taking place in 2016 where the application was received prior to 2016, so for the avoidance of doubt, I have ensured that the search specifically includes these.

These searches have not turned up any new information. In particular, under points 5 and 6, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff have not applied for or received any funding for food festivals from other sources of funding within Welsh Government in this time period. We hold no information as to whether any other body has provided them funding external to Welsh Government.

Although they have not applied for funding in 2016, I have established that in some cases a food festival might qualify for funding from our Major Events Unit, and if their event were to qualify for funding, the criteria they would need to meet are described here:

hhttp://gov.wales/topics/tourism/marketingl1/majourevents/guidance/?lang=en.

On question 10, you asked where the remainder of this year’s food festival budget had been allocated and we replied that we do not hold recorded information in response to this query. I confirm that we do not hold recorded information on these budget allocations, as the budget has not yet been allocated.

Wag food civil servants must be in training to be politicians, as they’ve certainly learnt the art of not answering questions! I have been talking to them since March about food festival funding and yes, surprise, surprise, it’s  this year I’m interested in. This year they’ve given festivals two dates to apply for funding but then been so slow publishing a full list of funded festivals , I’ve found it pathetic. It was  August before the full list was available. How organisers managed to do their financial planning without knowing if they had wag support was total nonsense, yet as the maximum they can apply for is £5k, wag food are giving the message that basically guys fund it yourself, unless you happen to be one of the big three. Despite Welsh Country magazine supporting Welsh food and drink for over 11 years and the backing we have from so many Welsh food and drink producers, not to mention my talking to, or at wag food about Welsh food festivals, I still didn’t get sent the press release about food festival funding. How weird is that? Communication is the key, but that clearly doesn’t apply to wag food.

All I wanted to know was:

Which festivals have been funded.

Which festivals applied and didn’t get funded.

What’s happened to the remainder of the £160k food festival budget.

What government funding has been given to Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy.

Wag food are spending our money, so why is it so difficult, or near impossible, to find out where that money is being spent. Somebody must be accountable for this spend but it’s infuriating they’re not willing to disclose.

If wag food think their handling of this is acceptable, then it’s further proof we are operating on different planets. I’m in the real world and they clearly are not…………………..