25 June 2015
Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
It’s now a year since the Welsh Government launched its Food and Drink Action Plan (PDF 2.5MB) in the summer of 2014. On Tuesday 30 June 2015, the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans, will update the Assembly on progress made so far.
The action plan
The headline commitment in the plan is to deliver a 30 per cent increase in industry turnover to £7 billion by 2020.
Other commitments include:
- Establishing a new Food and Drink Wales Industry Board. The board’s remit is to take ownership of delivering the action plan, and to act as the voice of the food and drink industry in Wales.
- Continuing to develop a new trade identity for Welsh produce, including developing a new approach to food industry awards (the previous True Taste Awards were discontinued in 2013).
- Developing a skilled and capable workforce through partnerships with schools, higher education institutions, industry and others.
The plan includes 48 actions in total, 25 of which focus on business growth and market development (including promoting use of the EU’s Protected Food Name Scheme). Other actions focus on education, training, skills, innovation, food safety and food security.
Progress so far – some key points
Food and Drink Wales Industry Board
The new Food and Drink Wales Industry Board has yet to be established fully, despite the plan including a short term milestone of ‘the Board to be fully established in 2014’. Robin Jones, of the Village Bakery, Wrexham, was appointed interim Chair in July 2014. An application process for board members was held in autumn 2014 resulting in a number of industry people being appointed to a ‘shadow board’. The shadow board met for the first time in March 2015. In spring 2015 there was a further application process to ‘increase the breadth of coverage of the Board’. The Welsh Government has said that the board will operate in shadow form until it reaches full complement, and an official launch will be held in ‘late summer’.
Figures aren’t available to track progress against the objective of growing industry turnover by 30 per cent to £7 billion by 2020. Although, in a recent Assembly debate on the food industry on Ynys Môn, the Deputy Minister said that in 2012-13 the industry growth rate was 10 per cent (this time period falls before the launch of the action plan).
In the debate, the Deputy Minister also said that the Welsh Government was:
working with the industry on defining the detail and credentials that underpin the ‘bwyd a diod Cymru’ identity and are working on developing the narrative that tells the story of Welsh food and drink.
‘Food and Drink Wales / Bwyd a Diod Cymru’ is the umbrella trade identity used by the Welsh Government to promote food and drink from Wales. It’s a platform that showcases individual brands and products, rather than being a brand in itself. This approach replaces the previous ‘Wales the True Taste / Cymru y Gwir Flas’, which the Welsh Government felt was no longer appropriate.
The Welsh Government hasn’t announced a successor to the True Taste Awards. However it has worked to bring the UK-wide Great Taste Awards to Wales for the first time. The Great Taste Awards are organised by the Guild of Fine Food and have been described as the ‘Oscars’ or ‘Booker prize’ of the food world. Tastings took place in Cardiff in early June with around 30 judges sampling almost 500 Welsh food and drink products.
Food Tourism Action Plan
In May 2015 the Welsh Government launched a new Food Tourism Action Plan (2015-20) (PDF 1137KB). The plan aims to raise Wales’s profile as a high quality food tourism destination.
Facts and Figures
The Welsh Government’s dedicated Food and Drink Wales website gives the following facts and figures about the Welsh food and drink industry:
On-farm production and food manufacturing
- 48,000 jobs
- 14,000 registered businesses (98 per cent are micro businesses)
- £5.7 billion turnover
- £1.3 billion gross value added (GVA)
- 75 per cent of businesses sell to the general public
The whole supply chain (farm to fork, including retail)
- 170,000 jobs
- 23,300 businesses
- £17.3 billion turnover
- £4 billion GVA
Research Service publications
Welsh Government website