Welsh food and drink businesses, ranging from flavoured cheeses to cereals, will take centre stage at one of the world’s largest trade events in Paris this week.
Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths will join a Food and Drink Wales delegation of thirteen leading companies from across the sector at the biennial Salon International de ’Alimentation (SIAL).
The Cabinet Secretary will meet exhibitors and customers to discuss export opportunities and will attend a Meat Promotion Wales / Hybu Cig Cymru reception to highlight the importance of the food and drink and the red meat sectors in Wales.
Speaking during the SIAL event, which will see more than 7,000 companies from 109 countries networking and exhibiting their produce, the Cabinet Secretary said it was more important than ever that Welsh businesses forged links with partners across Europe and seize every opportunity to export their goods further afield.
The Cabinet Secretary said Welsh food and drink businesses must grab the opportunity to meet with potential trade partners ahead of the uncertainty of Brexit and showcase their world renowned produce. The Welsh food and drinks industry has shown growth in recent years, with the value of exports for 2017 of £527.4million, representing a rise of 21.1%, and up £91.8million from 2016.
With the value of exports of food and drink from Wales to the European Community also increasing by £47.6million between 2016 and 2017, representing a 13.2% rise, Lesley Griffiths has urged Welsh businesses to use opportunities like SIAL to build relationships and showcase their produce to wider markets.
The Welsh Government provides a comprehensive range of programmes to support Welsh food and drink producers to increase their exports. This support ranges from bespoke one to one advice about export strategies and market selection, to exhibiting at key events like SIAL.
The Welsh Government Food and Drink Wales presence at SIAL is a vital exhibition to showcase the variety and quality of food and drink products from Wales to develop new business contacts, enhance their profile and maximise their potential market sales.
Lesley Griffiths said:
“SIAL is a fantastic opportunity for Welsh businesses to showcase the high quality food and drink they produce, as they strive to build relationships with others and their markets.
“Our efforts in raising our profile are making a real difference. Over the past year alone, our food and drink exports have increased by 20% and passed the £500m milestone for the first time.
“However, in these challenging times with Brexit now just a few months away, it is more important than ever that Welsh companies raise their international profile and proactively sell their produce to the world.
“Meat and meat products remain the top Welsh food and drink exports to the European Community, making up more than a quarter of the value of all exports in this category, and we need businesses from this sector to strengthen these ties and build even more partnerships to guarantee their future sustainability.”
Kevin Roberts, Chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru, said:
“Exports are vital for the red meat sector, and contribute over £180m a year to the Welsh economy. Contacts made at SIAL Paris and similar trade events lead directly to new business. We’re pleased that five meat exporters are attending this year as part of a strong Welsh food and drink contingent.
“Since the Cabinet Secretary announced the £1.5 million in financial support for HCC to boost export development this time last year, we have redoubled our efforts to build on business with existing clients, as well as expanding the reach of PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef into even more countries where it is highly sought-after and respected.”
Wales’ largest and oldest dairy co-operative South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC) will be attending SIAL and showcasing cheeses in their Dragon range, produced on the Llyn Peninsula using 100% Welsh milk from farms across North and Mid Wales.
Alan Wyn Jones, Managing Director of South Caernarfon Creameries, said:
“The event is a massive benefit to South Caernarfon Creameries because it provides us with a shop window to reach out and extend our markets.
“These are exciting times for SCC and following a £13m investment in our cheesemaking and packing plant at Chwilog, increasing exports from 5% to 15% of our sales is an important goal in our ongoing growth strategy over the next few years.
“We’re looking forward to reinforcing lots of our connections in the industry having significantly increased exports since attending SIAL last year, as well as making new contacts in the global marketplace.”
John Cullen, sales director at GRH Food Company Ltd, which has previously attended the SIAL conference as a visitor and will be exhibiting for the first time this year, said that it had been invaluable for the development of the Gwynedd-based cheese businesses.
In the last two years the company has increasingly exported to Europe, North America and the Middle East, as well as across the UK. It has also moved to a new 43,500 sq ft facility at Snowdonia Business Park, Minffordd near Porthmadog, after securing a £1.7million grant from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, as part of a £6.5million investment.
“It’s important for Welsh food and drink businesses to get more involved with conferences like these while the opportunity is still there,” said John Cullen.
“It’s a very important stage for networking and helps put Welsh food and drink businesses on the map. You have to be there in one way or another, as a visitor or exhibitor, to make those connections. International backers will take you more seriously if you are at these exhibitions.”
SIAL is held in Paris, France, from 21-25 October 2018.