Wales’ food and drink industry continued to prosper in 2016 and is well placed to deal with future challenges.
The Cabinet Secretary was at Abergavenny Fine Foods, the UK’s largest producer of fresh goat’s cheese, employing 130 staff, which last year enjoyed a turnover of £17.5 million.
The turnover of Wales’ Food and Drink sector was worth £6.1 billion in 2015 and the signs are this success will be repeated this year. In the first six months of 2016, Welsh food and drink exports were up £15.2m compared with the first six months of 2015.
The Welsh Government offers a comprehensive range of programmes to support Welsh food and drink producers to increase sales in both the domestic and export markets. This includes offering bespoke one-to-one advice, identifying in-market opportunities and supporting companies to visit and exhibit in key overseas markets.
In 2016 the Welsh Government continued to champion Wales’ world class food and drink at international trade events including, in October, at SIAL in Paris, one of the world’s largest food innovation and trade exhibitions. Over four days the Welsh Government joined fifteen of our finest food and drink producers and Hybu Cig Cymru to promote a wide range of high quality, distinctively Welsh products.
In addition, in 2016, the Welsh Government piloted for the first time an innovative scheme involving five food business cluster groups. More than 380 companies are now engaging with each other in ways that did not happen previously. In the first year of the Pilot at least half a million pounds has been generated in additional income savings to group members through clustering.
The reputation of the industry also received a boost earlier this year when two iconic Welsh products, Conwy Mussels and Carmarthen Ham were awarded European Union Protected Food Name (EUPFN) status. The Welsh Government supported both during the application process.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“Wales’ food and drink industry enjoyed another successful year in 2016 and we are already more than half way towards our target of achieving 30% growth by 2020. This is testament to the remarkable range of highly innovative producers, like Abergavenny Fine Foods and the work we are doing as a government to support the industry.
”Abergavenny is also, of course, the home of one of our flagship food festivals. Abergavenny Food Festival continues to be extremely popular with local people and visitors alike. We will continue to support Food Festivals to showcase, promote and retail Welsh products. They are a great way for small producers to learn about retail while growing their businesses.
“Of course, we will have to navigate choppy waters in the years ahead, as we face the prospect of a future outside the European Union. The industry generates over £260 million from exports with almost 90% to the EU. The challenges are obvious but we should now seek to take the opportunity to consolidate EU markets and develop new markets outside the EU.
“As we look towards 2017 I am encouraged the sector is well placed to overcome future challenges. I’m particularly excited about the ‘Taste Wales’ event at the Celtic Manor in March. This will be the first international food event held in Wales and will provide a shop window to international buyers and investors. It’s a great opportunity to tell our story of using our natural resources in a sustainable way and to sell our innovative products to the world”.
If you are a company that thinks you could benefit from support with developing exports please contact Business Wales on 03000 6 03000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.