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Posts Tagged ‘welshfoodbites’

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……………………………

 
 

Food Festival Conference / Funding Update

16 Mar

Please don’t chase me for an update on wag’s food festival conference / get together which was to be held yesterday. I’ve been told, by someone was attending that is was postponed and will be held at a future date. I do apologise for not posting earlier but swamped with work at the moment and couldn’t rate this as a priority – sorry.

For those of you that are also a little behind, follows is my post that was posted on 1st March:

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 & Borders 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 conference, 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 government 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……………..

 
 

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……………..

 

 
 

Taste Wales – Is It Only Me Confused?

13 Dec

Ian showed me a mini piece from Wales Business Insider, WBI, which is a B2B regional title, saying as follows: Taste Wales – Food-focused trade show and conference gathering producers with UK and international buyers. It’s expected to include partnering sessions for producers and buyers to make contacts; a showcase of Welsh products; insight into innovation, skills development and business support; and an evening reception.

Well dear readers, isn’t this interesting? WBI is a regional title, one of five regional titles published. Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but Welsh Country magazine is a Welsh title, published for 13 years and focusing heavily on Welsh food and drink, but have we been sent details of this event? No we haven’t. Why not? Well maybe that question is best directed to the Welsh Government, or perhaps the Welsh press office………………..but as I’m not supposed to talk to wag and the Welsh Government press office have refused to answer any further questions from Welsh Country magazine, I’m stuck!

Using Google, I typed in ‘Taste Wales’ TW, and ignoring the food delivery business running under that same name, I got directed to Business Wales. Once on that site I searched for Taste Wales and was told to refine my search, but Food and Drink and Growing Together then showed. Scrolling down under Information, 8 headers were shown but no Taste Wales. Scroll down again and found 2 headers for News & for Events. Click on Events and guess what showed up first? Taste Wales! Other events showed up along the same line, not in date order, but why would I expect that to happen? I guess it’s my job to search and it seems it is wag’s job to not make that too easy.

All I’m asking is for wag and wag food to keep me, as a journalist, updated, particularly on the Weksh food and drink front. Then if I think it relevant I shall tell my Welsh Country readers but will most certainly keep readers updated on welshfoodbites and send any food and drink press releases to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers. In a nutshell I’m trying to help Welsh food and drink. I just didn’t think it would be so difficult getting that message across to wag.

 

 
 

Scottish Food Manufacturing Growing Twice As Fast As UK Average

08 Sep

Whilst I’m being bashed from pillar to post by wag food seemingly because I’m a journalist asking them questions they’ve no wish to answer, I’m chuffed that the Scottish Government are talking  to me. Mind you, if I were the Scottish Government I’d be broadcasting this news to all and sundry. Scotland says their annual turnover for the food and drink industry reached record levels of £14.4 billion in 2014. It makes sense that they wish to crow that these latest figures also reveal that their food manufacturing sector grew at twice the rate of the UK average, increasing by 43 per cent in Scotland compared to 21 per cent in the UK from 2008-2014. I’d like to give you the reciprocal figures from Wales, but ‘as yet’ I’ve not been sent any and haven’;t bothered asking them for those figures either!

On 4th September, at the start of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: “The food and drink sector continues to be one of our most successful and that success shows no sign of slowing down. The industry is vital to Scotland – it creates jobs and wealth, impacts on health and sustainability, and helps attract people to the country by promoting our food and drink around the globe. This record turnover means that the sector is making good progress towards meeting the 2017 target of £16.5 billion, which has been set by Scotland Food & Drink. We are committed to doing all we can in government to support the growth of food and drink production and the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. Behind all of these figures are the drive and determination of the people who make up the industry – their hard work is key to ensuring, that Scotland’s food and drink is a success.”

Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers also welcomed the announcement. Withers said: “These are great figures and testament to a transformation in food and drink activity in Scotland over the last few years. The sector is not without challenges and uncertainty, but for a sector whose growth was stagnant a few years ago, this has been a major turnaround. The Scottish industry is now being recognised internationally for how it has embraced collaboration to grow, forging a stronger global reputation for our products. Opportunities still abound at home and overseas. We’re investing in developing new customers across the UK and in key international markets. That work, alongside deeper partnership working between different industry bodies and government, will be the key to success in the coming years and central to a new 2030 strategy to be launch early next year.”

Now let me start off by saying Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, well what a great idea, when is Welsh  Food & Drink Fortnight? Well that’s a good question, but do we have a Welsh Food & Drink Fortnight? Or is this something Welsh Country magazine and welshfoodbites.co.uk has missed? We are here with a huge passion to support Welsh food and drink so it would be a poor deal if we’ve not been told about it. Scotland’s Food & Drink target for 2017 is £16.5 billion, and they remain committed as a government to support the growth of food and drink production and the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. To me this is great news for Scotland and makes me think in the Scottish government is not just words from them but action to ensure their food and drink industry does grow. My fear for Wales, as it has been for far too long, is Wales is good on words, but fails on actual action. In my view we lack joined up writing. Yes of course Wales has action plans, I’ve lost count of how many action plans we’ve had over the last decade, my concern is that Wales seems to lack the capacity to turn any action plan into growth.

 

 
 

New Applications For Welsh Food & Drink Board

02 Jun

I first posted on this Welsh Government proposed new board on 30th March and followed up on 30th April. If interested please check out both those posts, as this will save me repeating myself! The gist is that after asking for applications to join the board in March, when I understand about 40 companies applied and then some were interviewed. Wag then decided that the board composition wasn’t a fair representation and asked for more companies to apply. The closing date was 24th April.
But as we are now into June I’m being asked what’s happening and who’s been appointed. Sorry folks, but I’ve not been sent any news of the further appointments but we are all aware of how important Welsh food and drink is to Wales.

I’ve asked the press office today and if they have any information it will be sent around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and then posted on welshfoodbites.

Sorry for this delay, but as you are well aware that my ongoing message to wag and wag food hasn’t got through that communication is the key………………….

 
 

Food Festival – Approval Of First Applications

06 May

I asked the Welsh Press Office again yesterday for the first list of food festival funding and have been told – again- that I’ll get a Press Release when they issue one. But as I keep explaining, it’s the facts and figures I’m interested in, much more than Welsh Assembly spin in a press release.
So follows is the first list I’ve received:
Tier 1
Approved
Caerphilly Food Festival 09 May £5,000
Wrexham Food & Drink Festival 16-17 May £5,000
Welsh Perry & Cider Festival 22-25 May £5,000
Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival 24-25 May £5,000
Hay Summer Food Festival 27 June £1,701
Cardigan River & Food Festival 08 August £4,995
Menai Seafood Festival 29 August £4,634
Narberth Food Festival 25-27 September £5,000
Mumbles Oyster & Seafood 02-04 Oct £5,000
Newport Food Festival 03 October £5,000
Llangollen Food Festival 17-18 Oct £5,000
Hay Winter Food Festival 27 November £1,701
Portmerion Food Festival 5-6 December £5,000
Abergavenny Xmas Food Festival 13 December £5,000
Tier 2
Approved
Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival 05 July £9,335

All I can say at this stage is that if anyone knows how to make one of their own systems more complicated, it has to be wag and wag food. Welsh food and drink is supposed to be high on wag’s agenda but if that’s the case why is this system now so comlicated? I’m interested in knowing how much these festivals applied for but as I’ve not been able to get the facts and figures I require, I’ve sent in a Freedom Of Information question. My response is due 20th May and after that the reply will be posted on welshfoodbites. I do though wonder if getting £1,701 in funding is worth all the paperwork and box ticking wag food require, but seemingly it is for some festivals.

 
 

Still No News On Festival Funding

21 Apr

Please, please, please stop asking me for the list of food festivals that wag are funding this year. By now I would have thought you’d have realised that when I know, you’ll know! When that news is received I’ll inform our Best of Welsh & Borders producers and follow that with a post on welshfoodbites. So, like me you’ve no option but to be patient and wait for wag…………………

Your constant questions, plus news on my grapevine saying that the 1st tranche of festivals were being informed last Friday or by Monday 20th April. So I contacted the press office on Friday for an update.
Today I’ve now been told that they: ‘are currently in the process of completing the appraisal of the first tranche of applications. The list of supported Food Festivals will be published on our website after all applicants have been informed of the outcome’.

I went back to the press office asking various food festival related questions and have been told: ‘that Welsh Country and other media outlets will be sent the press release after all the applicants have been informed’.

It’s clear to many that Welsh Country has a huge interest in Welsh food and drink, I’m just not sure that other Welsh media can match us on that one! But I am sure ‘other Welsh media’ will not be interested in the questions I’m asking! So I shall have to submit a Freedom Of Information question and wait 20 days for a response, with luck.

In previous years I have been sent this information without any hassle from wag food, but now no longer for a reson only wag food know. It’s a huge pity wag and I can’t work together, without wag having to make everything such hard work. For goodness sake, I’m hardly asking questions of a sensitive nature……………….

 
 

What’s Happening This Year With Food Festivals?

12 Feb

The Welsh Government are responsible for food festivals and an interesting Freedom Of Information question NO 8649, on wag’s website revealed that only 4% of the overall food budget is spent on food festivals. We’re told how important food festivals are for Welsh food and drink, but last year only 28 festivals were funded. Should we be grateful that fork2fork have for some years been responsible for farmer’s markets, box schemes and farm to the likely tune of £1.4m? Do we believe these three sectors are secure and growing……………………..?

Follows are figures taken from FOI 8649:

2012/13 – £311,087.01 (actual paid)

2013/14 – £141,863.54 (actual paid)

2014/15 – £184,311 (actual awarded)

Also relevant is that wag food have their own criteria that food festivals must met, including 75% Welsh food stands. Regular readers will know my views on these criteria, which in a nutshell is, don’t issue criteria unless you can guarantee they’ve been followed before you pay out tax payer’s money. For years 75% Welsh stands has been a joke, but in very bad taste when Welsh producers were not accepted for Welsh food festivals that the Welsh tax payers are helping to fund. I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort trying to get through to wag food that they’ve got it wrong, even sending lists from certain food festivals that weren’t obeying wag food’s rules. Eventually wag food were able to reduce the funding that had been offered. But this is a system that never worked and will not, unless wag food make changes. I’ve heard from a few organisers, those on staff and those who volunteer, that there is so much wag food paperwork that they feel swamped. Some would much prefer to run without funding if that was practical for them. But we must not forget that wag food need paperwork because otherwise they can’t tick Europe’s boxes – whether it is all relevant to Europe’s tick boxes, I’m really not sure.

Although we’re only in February, the list of food festivals not running this year continues to grow. Gorseinon was the first blow, followed by Pembrokeshire Fish Week, Cardiff Country Fair, which was not funded and also The Welsh Food Festival at Glanseven, which failed to run in 2104 too. I’m assuming wag food are aware of this news, though I do wonder if they are concerned about this, but as it will not hit their pay packet, maybe not! But do they ask the festivals why they are not running? Do the organisers tell wag food the truth? In the case of Fish Week, it’s certainly no exaggeration to say producers are furious. Questions have been raised in the Senedd and there have been various reports in local Welsh media. Fish Week’s demise this year is left to Pembrokeshire’s Food Officer’s ill-health but although this is upsetting news producers are not accepting that the whole of Fish Week is down simply to the Food Officer. If food is so important to Pembrokeshire and tourism, which is what we are frequently told, then pulling Fish Week is ludicrous and short-sighted. I’m told officially that Fish Week is in the middle of planning a structural change to the festival to move it to a social enterprise model, and a break for one year will give them a great opportunity to move towards this successfully. It will give them more time to plan for the new structure, looking at fresh ideas and at income streams which can assist in the growth and sustainability of the festival,

Is the crunch of the Fish Week cancellation purely down to money? Is Pembrokeshire County Council, PCC, simply waiting to apply for RDP which is unlikely to come on stream until later this year, early next year? PCC say they don’t wish to run a scaled-down festival believing it could be very damaging to the its current profile and detrimental to its future, as well as disappointing to its attendees. Damaging to its profile, detrimental to its future, disappointing to attendees what really does that mean? These are meaningless words, which in fairness are expected from a Cabinet Member or a politician, but are rarely understood by me, or the Welsh public. Why do PCC have to run a scaled down festival this year? Is that just because one staff member will be away for some time? If the Food Officer had found another job, would the cancellation still have happened?

I’m sure it goes without saying that I’ve no clue as to when wag food will announce the funding for this year’s food festivals. To be honest after chasing in the past for this information I’ve not even bothered this year.  But I also dread to think which criteria wag food will create this year. Will they have learnt anything from past years? That’s a lot to ask isn’t it? So we’ll have to wait and see, which is what my foodie readers will to do too. They really must stop contacting me and blaming me for being slow publishing the food festival list!! What a cheek some of them have! When I’ve been sent it, presuming I will be, I’ll publish it on welshfoodbites for sure.

My other concern is the food festival groups which supposedly have been set up, but I’ve heard little about it. I’m not sure this will be an improvement, but IF they can sort out the food festival calendar, that will be a something.

Let’s hope that no more festivals announce they are not running and those that do are given the help and support they need by wag food, but best play safe and don’t hold my breath………………….

 
 

Supply Chain Efficiency Scheme

06 Feb

Supply Chain Efficiency Scheme has been a regular post over the last few years, through the interest and puzzlement from our Best Of Welsh & Border producers. I have posted about two schemes in particular, Fork2Fork and Pembrokeshire Produce Direct. I’d like to say I’d investigated both these, but not sure that is an accurate description as I’ve been blocked all the way on trying to find out what benefit, if any, has been generated by these two projects.

Well today another comment arrived by post from a helpful person called Anon. I can understand some people wishing to mail me a comment and other useful information. But although I promise everyone that comments left on welshfoodbites.co.uk, will not reveal who you are – hence the number of comments from: BOW, producer, trader and foodie, the only info you must supply is an email address. I can assure you that email is only seen by me. If you then think that your email will be sent elsewhere, you do not know me very well! I refused to reveal my sources to our Rural Food Minister – back in the day when we had a Welsh Food Minister – and NO-ONE will get such information out of me, even if that marks me once more as a trouble-maker.   

But back to my SCES post which promoted the sender to communicate with me after reading it. The sender was expressing concern at the PPD project, wondering why I’d not mentioned Pembrokeshire County Council’s, (PCC), involvement. Well in my many posts about this topic, I most certainly have because PCC loaned PPD money to get this project off the ground before the SCES funding came through. PCC’s food officer, was I think also on the board at one stage. But when I put up a new post I cannot cover the whole story from the beginning as it would just take too long and then I’m at risk at boring my regular readers. However if SCES were paying me a yearly fee of £43k to keep my website updated, as they did with fork2fork, then I’m sure could afford the time to do that!!!

When PPD was set up, I as a journalist was sent very little information and precious little detail. Actually if I think back, I don’t actually think I was sent any information at all, but as I can’t be sure, I’ll try to be fair. I was told by the SCES team that it was up to each project to do promotion or not, they didn’t have too! My updates/complaints came from producers, as we had some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers in the Pembrokeshire area.  

I’m aware that PPD scheme won some awards, but let’s be honest, can anyone remember what they were? Being the cynical journalist, unless I rate who is judging, I find many awards meaningless, but lest we forget, that does of course tick another box on the wag/SCES sheets. I’m told a review is underway, but we’ll not get sight of this until the end of this year. We’ve not been given a final date for publication, but then I wouldn’t have, because this after all is wag in control. The final crunch is I guess, we’ll not believe much of it. Yet some company will have been paid a fortune to collate this report, and that is important so wag can tick yet another box. Then will anyone be able to find this report? Maybe not – as I suspect it will be buried somewhere on wag’s website. I’ve asked wag if they’ll send me a copy when published, but not holding my breath on that one!

The crunch for me is why were these two projects given the go-ahead initially? Was the reason they got their cash because they could ‘talk-a-good game?’ Both these projects got start-off funding of £800k each with Fork2Fork getting much, much more as time has gone on. (The total cost of the PPD project was £789,660 and received £469,596 from SCES and the remainder from other sources. My sender thinks that PPD got the green light because of the strong link between PCC and PPD but that doesn’t apply for Fork2Fork scheme, the strong link there is the person who headed the Fork2Fork scheme, had strong connections with wag food.    

I don’t lay any blame at all with the food producers, my gossip is PCC wanted their own producer scheme and of course they got it. But a lot of egg has been left on a lot of faces, but we need to know who has got an eggy face! PCC got what they wanted at huge cost to the Welsh tax-payer and now it bites the dust and there’ no explanation as far as I know from PCC. I’m told as PPD was heading downwards, they backed away, but sadly that is only hearsay. I’m not convinced that PCC will explain any clearer than Wag will and just feel this can of worms will remain unopened. 

I’d be a total idiot if I couldn’t work out that I’m being blocked and fobbed off trying to understand what was the thinking behind these two projects. What was achieved and if the taxpayer has actually seen any value in the money that has been spent on their behalf. Or perhaps an easier way is to ask our Welsh food and drink producers what value they’ve seen from these two projects. ……………………………….

The other important thing to remember is these are only two of the schemes from a whole string of projects that received funding under the SCES. So how much money has proved worthwhile and how much has simply been wasted? We’ll just never be told the truth from what purports to be an open government.