The Welsh food and drink industry will receive a £22m funding boost to help the sector continue to thrive post-Brexit, Lesley Griffiths announced today.
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs made the announcement at the Blas Cymru/TasteWales event – an event which brings global buyers and Welsh producers together to showcase our quality products and help open new markets and international trade deals ahead of Brexit.
The new £22 million investment, will be across the sector offering new support to realise business growth opportunities and ambitions and to propel innovation forward. It will directly support the foundation sector in Wales respond to the challenges and opportunities of Brexit. Further details on the projects that will benefit from the investment will be announced in the forthcoming months.
The 2 day Blas Cymru/TasteWales today returns to Celtic Manor in Newport today, bringing more than 100 Welsh food and drink producers and 200 buyers – more than a third of whom are international, with buyers from countries such as Germany, France, UAE, Qatar and Japan.
The event has Meet the Buyer opportunities, where influential domestic and international buyers can meet with Welsh food and drink producers to explore the potential of working together and identify new trading opportunities.
This year there will be a new Investor Zone, offering delegates the opportunity to meet potential investors and fund providers. Finding the right finance at the right time can be crucial in helping food and drink producers maximise the trade prospects which Blas Cymru/Taste Wales will offer.
Confirmed fund providers include high street banks, Development Bank of Wales, Angels Invest Wales, private investors, asset based finance, as well as alternative fund providers. The Welsh food and drink sector is globally renowned and has shown considerable growth in recent years. The sector is already close to meeting its £7 billion ambitious target earlier than expected.
The Food and Farming sector was worth £6.8 billion in 2018, with the supply chain employing 217,000 across agriculture, manufacturing, wholesale, retail and catering. Latest export figures, newly published, show Welsh food and drink exports have increased and in particular to non-EU countries.
Welsh food and drink exports in 2018 were worth £539 million – up 2% or £10 million on the previous year. Since 2014, the value of food and drink exports in Wales increased by 32%. The value of Welsh food and drink exports to non-EU countries increased by £25 million in 2018, with £145 million of exports going to non-EU countries during the year.
Speaking ahead of Blas Cymru/TasteWales, the minister said:
“Our food and drink sector is globally renowned and a real Welsh success story. It is already close to meeting our ambitious 2020 target earlier than expected. However, we cannot let Brexit derail the sector’s success and we must take every opportunity to showcase all it has to offer globally.
“As Blas Cymru/TasteWales gets underway again, I am delighted to be able to announce an additional £22 million for the sector to build on its success to date and support the industry to become even more resilient and respond to the challenges and opportunities Brexit brings.
“With Brexit fast approaching it is more important than ever for the sector to showcase what it has to offer and have the opportunity to reach new markets and strike international trade deals.
“Blas Cymru/TasteWales therefore comes at a crucial time for the industry. The inaugural event in 2017 generated £16 million of new contracts for Welsh food and drink businesses. I’m sure this year’s event will be equally successful and provide great opportunities for the sector to continue its success and thrive post-Brexit.”