Posts Tagged ‘welshfoodbites’

Great Taste Award Event In Cardiff

19 Jan

Over the last week or so, I’ve had a few producers asking me about an event being held in Cardiff tomorrow, hosted by our Deputy Food Minister and organised by Food & Drink Wales and supported by the Great Taste Awards. The great and the good, plus Welsh AMs have been invited. If only I was either great or good, or preferably both! I’m told the event will give Assembly Members the chance to meet food and drink producers from every corner of Wales. Well actually that’s misleading because the only Welsh food and drink producers that have been invited are those who have won Gold at the Great Taste Awards. And Let me tell you that is not an easy task because unlike our True Taste the GT has a sensible star system.

Actually I can only see the point in pushing the UK Great Taste Awards if Wales could also trumpet their own True Taste Awards.

I’m being asked why this event is running in Cardiff and why has there been no news about the Wales The True Taste which former Food Minister Alun Davies dumped unceremoniously, saying it wasn’t working for today’s Welsh market. Well folks I think by now it should go without saying that wag food haven’t bothered to tell me anything about tomorrow’s event. Regulars will have read on welshfoodbites that ‘wag doesn’t engage with bloggers and wag has decreed that’s what I am! Forget and ignore Welsh Country magazine. Wag says I’m a blogger and wag are always right, aren’t they? ………………..

With food producers asking me questions about tomorrow, it’s safe to say wag food don’t think it worthwhile to let most Welsh food and drink producers know anything about it either. So at least they are treating us both equally! Communication is the key, but apparently not for wag food. Welsh food and drink producers that have won Gold at the Great Taste have been invited and I hope they’ll be able to make some good contacts with the major food buyers that have also been invited.

I believe that the Great Taste team were initially paid by wag food to set up the True Taste. So I would then have expected the changing face of the Welsh food and drink to have been taken into account, but seemingly not. Isn’t it weird though that Great Taste continues very successfully, covering the changing face of the whole of UK food but Wales has discarded the True Taste because it’s unable to do a job for Wales.

Thankfully many of our Welsh food and drink producers are also successful in the Great Taste Awards, but still say they don’t understand why wag dumped True Taste instead of using logic and tweaking it as the years went by. But this is wag, so it’s much easier for them to throw the baby out with the bath water – no point in asking producers if they wanted TT dumped……………


Farmers’ Market Changes At Royal Welsh Spring Fair

02 Dec

Rumours were rife yesterday at Winter Fair about what was happening about the Farmers’ Market at the Spring Festival next year. Thankfully a thoughtful food producer had already kept me in the loop, but for those of you not aware, here in full is the latest news:

The End Of A Chapter At The Royal Welsh Spring Festival

Farmers’ Markets in Wales has recently been told, by an RWAS staff member, that the Society has decided it no longer wishes the Farmers’ Market to be part of the Spring Festival but rather that the Food Hall will take over and be run along the same lines as at the Royal Welsh Show and Winter Fair. This brings to an end the farmers’ market presence which has been a popular feature of the former Smallholders Show and more recently Spring Festival since 2004.

It was in that year the then WDA, who were contracted to run the Food Hall at the three annual RWAS Shows, asked Stephen Shearman, who manages Farmers’ Markets in Wales, to take over the running of the Food Hall at the Smallholders Show. There was funding available which enabled reasonable stall fees to be set allowing a greater focus to be made on small scale businesses. The ‘small is beautiful’ mantra fitted well with the type of visitors attending the Show, and in its heyday, the Farmers’ Market was both popular and successful.

Farmers’ Markets in Wales pioneered the offering of refreshments directly from the attending producers many of whom where farmers using their own produce as ingredients. This grew in popularity and after a few years had largely displaced the traditional fast food offering.

The Society changed the name of the Show to the Spring Festival some years ago and its nature has changed. The Welsh Assembly withdrew funding in 2011 since when the Farmers’ Market has been self financing which is no small achievement.

It remains for Farmers’ Markets in Wales to wish the Society good fortune in achieving its aims with the hope that the many producers who have attended over the years will find suitable accommodation. For those wishing to find out more about the Spring Festival 2015 please contact the Spring Festival Director: Kay Spencer

To say that food producers were concerned with this news would register as an understatement. Ian and I tried to get an official update on Monday at the Winter Fair, but let’s say, ‘we were unable to do so!’

The Smallholder/Spring Festival has regularly been covered on welshfoodbites, but let me give you my take on the situation. Welsh food should always be showcase with wag food and visit Wales getting behind Welsh food at every opportunity. Stephen Shearman did a brilliant job, not only running the food hall at the Spring event, but introducing a farmers’ market at the Royal Welsh in the midst of the show ground. The market is a great addition to the show and a wonderful opportunity for smaller producers to be able to take a stand at the RWAS and get their message out there and sell some produce!

The Welsh food and drink side of the Royal Welsh has always been a mystery to me as I cannot understand how wag food can run the Food Hall at the RWAS and the Winter Fair, but the Smallholder/Spring Show was handed over the Stephen Shearman but then treated as an outsider. This though has also changed in that wag no longer appear to be in the driving seat, but have not taken their hands off the steering wheel. As ever though with wag food, nothing is at all clear. Apologies, I digress. Even when the new food hall was built, the farmers market always ran in the old food hall. But in 2011 wag food created new criteria that insisted food festivals had to have food as the core, which meant in wag speak, that shows or events that had food alongside, not just total food, would not get funding from the food festival budget. This was another wag food rule to obey, fair enough. But my query which was raised with wag food at the time and not solved, was that the Smallholder was never listed on the food festival funding list which of course was agreed and produced by wag food themselves. So that to me at least meant that as Smallholder’s funding didn’t come from that budget, so why did wag food’s latest criteria have anything to do with the Smallholder show? After further digging I found that the Smallholder Show was funded from the Promoting Welsh Food Budget, but once again that didn’t make much sense. Why was the Smallholder treated as the poor relation and why didn’t wag food do something to sort it out? After asking Stephen to take it over why didn’t they give him some support? Which actually meant wag food were supporting food producers…………………

So since 2011 Stephen has worked tirelessly to put on a food show that would do Wales proud. But instead of wag deciding this show should be funded, they left him to it, and without funding Stephen had no choice but to raise stand prices which meant some producers couldn’t afford to attend this popular event.

It’s a sad state of affairs that a guy who is so passionate and committed to Welsh food has not been supported by wag food but instead has had endless hurdles put in place instead. None of this has ever made sense to me, maybe it would if I was sitting in a government glass house, but out in the real world of Welsh food it is another pointless exercise that has hindered the people wag food are supposed to be supporting –  the Welsh food producers.

As wag food are still not talking to me, please don’t ask me what will happen next on this sorry saga. If you are concerned, worried or like me just puzzled, I suggest you either ask wag food yourselves, or email RWAS or one of your many Assembly Members.  But good luck on those options……….


Surveys – Who Believes The Figures?

29 Sep

Journalists are allowed to be cynical, that’s how we are trained and surveys always bring cynicism to the fore. Over recent years we had companies reviewing Welsh food festivals, the reason for this is to tick boxes for Europe so further funding can be gained. I struggle to believe the numbers that are put out and how much supposedly food producers are taking at each festival. If the figures were accurate or very near the truth, I wouldn’t have as many food producers telling me that they are still worried about the future of their businesses and that their expansion plans were being put on the back burner. Recently one AM was on social media saying food festivals in north Wales brought in £16m to the economy. Of course £16m million into north Wales, can only be good news, but what I’m curious about is how is that figure is arrived at? How accurate is it?

Last year we had Wavehill doing a food festival review and I was told it was being completed by telephone and from food festival organiser’s paperwork. Wag food asked me to do a telephone interview with Wavehill:  As you have considerable experience in this area but I declined, for two main reasons. Firstly there was no payment and secondly that I had no idea how my input would be used or no control over it. I’m afraid that didn’t go down too well with wag food but then I was inadvertently copied in an email that went around wag food hierarchy saying:  if KR refuses to be interviewed without a consultation fee, and subsequently slates the final review, these can be referred to. 

My subsequent complaint did eventually get an apology saying that the civil servants’ email: do not reflect the views of Welsh government and the Food division and we are sorry if they have caused any offence. Offended, I certainly was, it is my choice but don’t reflect the views of wag and wag food? That can’t be true. I’ve not met, or spoken to this civil servant, so where do these views come from if not from wag food? I’m not obliged to do more work for wag food without a fee, I’m sure this civil servant doesn’t work for wag food for free, so why should I? I have little knowledge of Wavehill and would have had no control at all of their report, so how could I feel comfortable doing that?

I’ve recently noticed a festival using their part of the Wavehill report and quoting percentages, saying that over half their visitors weren’t local, plus the percentage that came from outside Wales and a spend figure from non-local visitors. But how can these figure be arrived at and be accurate? If the survey talked to every person attending, which is impossible, people still don’t tell the truth, it’s human nature isn’t it? But the reality is that this seems to be a sample of people that are ‘talked’ to and figures are then extrapolated.

I’m no longer reviewing festivals on welshfoodbites, as I’ve no wish to assist whichever company is doing wag foods’ evaluation. I’m also not naming, and certainly not knocking this festival, because they continue to do a good job year after year. How do I know they are doing a good job? Well that’s an easy question to answer, because I’ve been attending this festival for the last nine years. At each festival I attend, I actually talk to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, that attend and because they trust me, they tell me their views, what works well and what needs improving, if anything. Our BOW producers tell it to me as it is; they know it will not go any further unless they need my help with anything. But there’s nothing better than attending a festival where we have plenty of BOW producers in attendance and they are happy!!!

Some time ago I had a press release from a food festival saying they had 10,000 people through, which sounds good unless you are aware this festival is free to attend so there’s no way to do a visitor count and also impossible in my view that the town concerned could park 3,000 cars, let alone 5,000 cars. So apologies for my cynicism remaining intact.

I’d be really interested in your views on surveys and reports. Of course we must always bear in mind that box-ticking exercises are obligatory for wag to get further funding from Europe, wag cannot avoid that, but our Welsh food and drink producers and festival organisers need help and support that goes beyond box-ticking!


Carwyn Reshuffles His Cabinet

16 Sep

Carwyn Jones recently announced his latest cabinet reshuffle. Not sure if you’ve heard about it or if it might interest you. But the only reason that I’m posting this is that I’ve actually been taken to task by email and by phone for not giving the news of the new Minister for Natural Resources Carl Sargeant AM and the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food Rebecca Evans AM. Edwina Hart AM remains as Minister for Economy, Science and Transport.

Whether these AMs will actually ‘listen’ to those involved in Welsh food and drink at all levels, of course remains to be seen, my suggestion is as always though, don’t hold your breath.

I’m rather puzzled why I should be ticked off for not posting this news, but I have my reasons for not doing so. The first is lack of time and that fact that I’m not paid to be a spokesperson or post for the Welsh Government – bearing in mind wag haven’t bothered to send me a press release about this. But as wag have now decreed I’m no longer considered by them to be a journalist I don’t expect anything from them. I’m now told if I wish to know anything I should go onto their website. As if! Secondly this is my food blog. It’s not classed as an official part of Welsh Country magazine, although I’m happy to have a regular banner advert in each issue!!! But when Ian is selling to potential Best of Welsh & Borders, (BOW) producers, he doesn’t sell welshfoodbites as not part of the package. Of course it’s mentioned – often by the potential BOW producer – as welshfoodbites still remains a huge talking point. Thirdly and something that I have to consider constantly, is that welshfoodbites is not, and has never has been funded, unlike many other Welsh food websites, and no doubt still are. That’s despite the fact that our website stats are excellent, but government paymasters/funders seemingly don’t take this into consideration, for some reason not classing web stats as relevant which is what I was told when fork2fork got further funding and an extension.  Welshfoodbites is proof, if proof were still needed, that there is a need in the Welsh food world for a website that informs and keeps producers in the food loop. Something wag food continue to fail to do. I also believe having the opportunity to be able to leave opinions on welshfoodbites, knowing that any personal details will be kept confidential, is important . After the constant battering I’ve been getting and I can understand that very few producers are happy to raise their heads above the parapet, so confidentiality is something I was determined I could promise to my welshfoodbites following.

There was one amusing fact though with those that have taken me to task, although they are all regular visitors, none of them ever leave a comment……………………………………………..



This Is A First Folks………………..

04 Sep

Refused press tickets to a Welsh food festival!

I applied yesterday for press tickets for Abergavenny Food Festival an event that we’ve attended and covered in Welsh Country magazine and on welshfoodbites for at least the last nine years. This morning I received a reply from an Abergavenny spokesperson, which I’ll share with you:

This year we have undertaken a review of all the complimentary tickets we give out to various people and organisations. We have done this as part of our continued efforts to become financially self-sustainable. For this reason we are not able to offer you complimentary press passes this year. 

So this really is a first, the first occasion I’ve been refused press tickets to any Welsh food festival since Welsh Country started in 2005. However should Abergavenny ever become financially self-sustainable, which wag food have been telling me for the last nine years, that’s what food festivals have to do, then I shall be the first to applaud them. Whether refusing press accreditation and press passes is a sensible move to achieve Abergavenny’s self-sustainability, I shall leave to you to decide………..

After last year’s event, off my own bat, I submitted to wag food a full list of Abergavenny exhibitors, which highlighted the fact that Abergavenny didn’t fulfil wag food’s criteria of 75% Welsh producers. Unsurprisingly I didn’t get a response from wag food, but I was later told by an organiser that wag food had asked all organisers to send into them a list of exhibitors and where they came from, that attended their festival. Later I followed this up with an FOI Number 8331, which was posted welshfoodbites on 28th April. It revealed that Abergavenny Food Festival had to repay to wag food £2k from their £10k grant for failing to meet wag’s criteria they also have to refund for their Christmas festival too. So did my action have anything to do with my being refused press tickets this year? If that’s the case it seems rather petty, but if wag were doing their job properly they’d have known this festival along with a few others was ignoring their 75% Welsh stand criteria. I’m not ‘various people’, I’m not ‘an organisation’, just an editor/journalist whose publication Welsh Country is very strong on Welsh food. A lack of Welsh producers has been a problem at Abergavenny for many years.  Surely there is an obligation if you are accepting wag funding, regardless of their criteria, that Welsh stands should have priority. As wag food don’t speak to me it’s surely perfectly obvious that I have nothing to do with the criteria they come up with, but if wag are paying, it’s down to the organisers to follow all wag criteria, not just the ones they are happy to follow. If more people like me believed food festivals were firstly for our food producers, our food producers would not have as many complaints about them, year after year. Of course we have some brilliant festivals, that are always improving. Perhaps I’m greedy wanting more top class festivals, but so do our producers and so should wag food and that shouldn’t be wrong should it?

If a food festival doesn’t receive funding from wag food, then it is totally up to that food festival how they run their festival. The percentage of Welsh food producers would be totally irrelevant as it’s down to the organiser to decide how they want their festival to run. But if a food festival receives wag funding then I will stand up for Welsh producers who have  no say as to whether they can get into a festival or not. Can you imagine the French or Irish governments funding food festivals and allowing this scenario to happen?  I’m not a nationalist in the political sense, but I’m aware of the situation across Europe,  the ending of milk quotas and the effect this is already having on Welsh producers, is hideous and could get even deeper.  I make no apologies for standing up for our Best Of Welsh & Border producers. If the wag food department and all Welsh food festivals did just that, then these pathetic situations would not keep recurring.  If wag food and now festival organisers want to shoot me as the messenger, then carry on doing so. I’d actually prefer grown-up behaviour and get food festivals to improve, just stop rejecting bona-fide Welsh producers at Welsh food festivals. It makes blood boil when this happens time and time again and those poor producers have no recourse whatsoever. Their explanation ‘we’re oversubscribed is a great fob off and woe betide any producer that follows through and asks why is it me left out?  But shooting the messenger is now getting rather boring and it’s achieving nothing to improve Welsh food and drink or the lot of our food producers – they and they alone should be our priority.

I’ve no idea which of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, (BOW) have been accepted this year at Abergavenny. But I’ve already had a complaint about one BOW who was not allowed in Abergavenny this year. But to save time and work I’ll send this email from Abergavenny around our BOW and then they’ll understand why we’ll not be there seeing how they are getting on.

What a very sad and pathetic situation this is.


Wag Rules…………………….?

01 Sep

The organisers told me officially of a Food Festival Seminar being held at Llangollen Pavilion on the 6th of February, this year. I was actually invited, but in my role as a journalist, with deadlines, to meet I couldn’t attend. Following the seminar  wasn’t told officially of the outcome, but certainly heard about it on our Welsh food grapevine. The news was that a formal body should be created of food festivals in Wales to represent the interests of food festivals in Wales and encourage collaboration between food events in Wales.

I wasn’t told of a working group that met on 19th March at the wag offices at Aberystwyth to discuss the concept of creating a grouping of every food festival in Wales to represent the interests of food festivals in Wales. However I’ve recently had some information sent through from a supporter of welshfoodbites. This has been sent in full by email to our Best Of Welsh & Border producers, so they are at least kept in the picture on what is going on in their industry.

Wag’s mission statement also says:  The working group would like the opinion of every food festival in Wales and stakeholders in the industry on the points of the proposal

Wag recently told me: Given your extensive ongoing correspondence with us, principally via our Press Office, and your active involvement as a stakeholder in the recent consultation on our new Food and Drink Action Plan

Well that’s very interesting, no I’m wrong there, it’s very annoying. According to wag food, who’ve recently decided I’m no longer a journalist, apparently wag know better than me that my role has changed within Welsh Country magazine, but it sounds as if wag food have now decreed that I’m no longer a stakeholder in the industry. So when is a stakeholder not a stakeholder? Have wag just changed their mind, but it’s too much hassle to tell me? It seems wag rules, or rather wag make up their own rules as they go along, but haven’t got the courtesy to tell me I’m now no longer considered a stakeholder by them. Wag food state they want feedback on their proposals on this proposed food festival group, but looks like only from the people they wish to have opinions from! I’m so sorry not to have been able to pass on my words of wisdom to wag food, that’s a shame. Wag and wag food will just have to keep reading welshfoodbites ………………..

The Welsh Government’s Food Division have agreed to provide a grant of £30,000 to set up the new association (subject to the specific items of expenditure being clearly identified).

For any of you that are not with us as Best Of Welsh & Border producers, but want more news about the food festival organisers group I suggest you talk directly to wag food. Good luck on that one!


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.




Update On Food Festival Funding

23 Apr

I got some news in this morning, needless to say not from wag food, which was that some Welsh food festival organisers have had an email giving an amount wag food are offering them for their festival. As far as I’m aware there’s been no information that anyone has received an official funding offer by letter from wag food. Some organisers say it’s a letter they require before they are assured it’s fully official – which seems to be an on going lack of trust between them.

A ‘polite’ way for me to describe this situation is farcical, but there are many other adjectives that are more appropriate to describe how the Welsh Country team are feeling about wag food festivals!

Welsh Country magazine have many sectors that are concerned about wag’ festival funding – organisers, obviously, food producers, of course and also our readers both for Welsh Country magazine and on Our M/June issue is on the printing press tomorrow and I’ve been unable to cover many festivals because I don’t know for certain much of what is going ahead. But fret not wag food, you carry on doing what I guess you think is a good job on food festivals and just ignore the rest of us being left in the dark, not knowing what on earth is happening. We lost another festival advert this week because the organisers hadn’t received an official letter confirmation from wag food. But again wag food, that’s not for you to worry about, your salaries will still plop in the bank at the end of the month. Plus, once you have finally handed out your funding offer, it’s not your responsibility to get producers into festivals or to get visitors through the gates. If your current form continues you’ll take little interest in food festivals until European box-ticking has to be completed. This is surely a case of wag food saying ‘I’m alright Jack’

We used to publish a full list of wag funded food festivals in our M/June issue and then follow that up in our J/A, S/Oct and N/Dec with festivals running then. This acted as a reminder to our food producers and also to our readers. A full wag funded food festival listing also ran on Anyway that was back in 2008 and 2009 when wag were advertising with us in each issue and so we were happy to support wag food in any way we could. We always promise to give additional support to our advertisers and this 2-way street, does work.

Since 2010 we’ve been fobbed off, or in my view bullied, with the ‘no budget scenario’ and yes, it appears our additional work in 2008-9 was irrelevant. I guess no-one in wag food evaluated what extra work we did for them, which is par for the wag. If you need to guess when welshfoodbites was born – try 2010!

Ian was told officially yesterday that there will be no advertising from wag food for 2014 – quelle surprise, but I think it’s important that you know where things stand here this year between us and wag food. Wag food are responsible for food festivals and part of their criteria is that festivals must market and advertise, but wag are throwing this totally back to organisers, even though wag food are penalising festivals running early. It’s also important that food producers ask each festival about what marketing/advertising programmes are in place before their cheques are sent off. That must be your safe-guard and it’s no good moaning to me when a festival is not working with us.

Losing wag food’s support from 2010 has caused some confusion and queries from our readers. They’re are unaware of the huge problems that still exist with wag food and have been expecting me to cover all festivals as we did in the past, but that’s not viable for Welsh Country and also not fair on festivals that are working with us, so that’s where we now are.

We’re running a business, so it goes without saying that in an ideal Welsh world I’d want all wag funded food festivals to advertise and support us. But the reality is that that’s unlikely to happen. It’s up to organisers to make their decisions, the choices are theirs. Ian’s often told of funded festivals saying they’ve no advertising budget, which could be a fob-off or rather that they’d rather run in their local rag and local radio. Of course we accept their decisions, it’s pointless wasting more time doing anything else, but those festivals have to accept that if they’re not advertising, we’ll not give them any coverage either in Welsh Country magazine or on We’re also unlikely to visit them either, but maybe some festivals will find that a blessing as that means they haven’t a hope of getting on welshfoodbites either!!!

But don’t get too down about all this, just remember how often we are told how important Welsh food and drink is to Wales ……………………………………….


Spoken to more festivals today and can confirm that others have also had wag’s email offer, but NONE have yet been sent an official letter.


Latest Web Stats – Or Lack Of Value For Money Through SCES?

28 Feb

Regular readers will be very well aware, possibly bored, with how unfair I think it is that the fork2fork campaign, after pocketing £800k for a 2-year programme covering Welsh farm shops, Welsh box schemes and Welsh farmers’ markets, could apply and be awarded a 12 month extension and a further £100k, £43k of which was to be devoted basically to keep their website updated.

I’ve checked their website today looking for news items and see they’ve posted 2 items for February and 5 for January. When I look at postings for 2013 March – December there are 38 posts in total. So there’s a total to date of 45 posts over a 12month period, bearing in mind I think they officially run until March 2014 with this second wad of cash. It’s not hard to work out 45 posts for £43k on a basic level is it? Now whoever said money for old rope is not far from the truth, because all these posts are emailed into them making the task of cutting and posting in full not a difficult task, simple for most 10 year olds!!! But in government terms, this £43k to ‘UPDATE’ a website is fine. Well not for me. I take this as yet another total disregard for the value of the Welsh public’s money when wiser spending of this European money should have been a huge help to our Welsh food and drink industry.

So now let me share the folly of this £43k yearly website update spend with yesterday’s,  27/2, rankings:

welshfoodbites  fork2fork
UK Rankings         6,502    984,149
Worldwide     265,221 8,062,362
Monthly pages view     229,975     11,227
Monthly visits:      29,537         432





Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival ‘Springs’ Forward With New Date For 2015

20 Feb

Many of you will be disappointed, Ian and I included, to find out that  the Cowbridge Food & Drink festival will not be running this year. Follows is the full press release:

Having celebrated its tenth anniversary last October, the award-winning Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival has grown to become one of the most popular events of its kind in Wales.

Thousands flock to the market town each year to sample the high quality artisan produce available, with only one factor ever putting a dampener on proceedings – and even larger attendance figures – the often inclement October weather.

For this reason – and in order to ensure the future growth of this annual showcase – the organising committee has taken the decision that future festivals will take place in May rather than October as previously.

The next festival is planned for May 2015 and will be hosted annually in the month of May from then on, taking advantage of a spring climate with the aim of attracting even more sponsors and visitors to the event.

Run by a volunteer committee, the Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival costs over £60,000 each year to set up and run, with 2013 incurring a substantial loss – attributed in a large way to the poor weather conditions. Festival expenses typically involve radio, newspaper advertising and PR; marquees, logistics and site management as well as the provision of the free park and ride, additional public toilet facilities, insurance and Festival entertainment all of which have to be paid for out of the proceeds received over the weekend of the Festival.

Speaking about the committee’s decision, John Davies, Festival Chairman said:

“We’ve enjoyed a hugely successful ten years of the Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival but we have come to realise that certain conditions are preventing us growing even further and attracting a wider audience to enjoy this fantastic weekend of food and family fun.

“In moving the date to May, we hope to attract new sponsorship and interest in the festival in 2015 and even more support from the local community and town’s traders who we rely on to work so closely with us.

“We see this change as a very positive thing and a real opportunity to revitalise the festival, drawing even more visitors to Cowbridge and generating higher income and economic growth for the region in the process.”

As many readers of welshfoodbites will know, I’m a huge fan of this festival; the only thing I could blame them for was not always ordering sufficient warm and sunny weather for the end of October! With the weather in mind, I’m sure the change of date is the right move for them; Welsh food and drink is vital to Wales but I just hope that the food festival calendar doesn’t get too busy in May. However it’s not just food producers that will be counting the cost the cost of the loss of this festival this year, there’s no doubt that beautiful market town of Cowbridge will also miss the influx of visitors that this super festival always brings in.