Food and drink action plan – two years on

20 June 2016

Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

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A selection of fine Welsh cheeses displayed on a slate platter.

It’s now two years since the previous Welsh Government launched the Food and Drink Action Plan. On Tuesday 21 June, Lesley Griffiths, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, 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 Food and Drink Wales Industry Board. The board’s remit is to take ownership of delivering the action plan, and to grow, promote and enhance the reputation of the Welsh food and drink industry;
  • 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);and
  • 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. Other actions focus on education, training, skills, innovation, food safety and food security.

Progress so far – some key points

Rebecca Evans, the then Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, updated the Assembly on progress against the action plan last summer, on 30 June 2015.

Industry growth

Figures aren’t available to track progress against the objective of growing industry turnover by 30 per cent to £7 billion by 2020. On 30 June 2015 the Deputy Minister said:

… we are on course to achieve this target. The latest priority sector statistics for farming and food reported a £5.8 billion turnover, which means that we have already achieved 11.5 per cent growth since 2012-13.

However, the figure quoted by Deputy Minister is for the broader farming and food sector, which includes primary agriculture, rather than for the food and drink sector specifically.

The Deputy Minister also said she would publish a baseline data study report, which would provide ‘disaggregated data analysis of the food and drinks manufacturing sector and the subsectors within. The report can be seen here: The value of welsh food and drink.

Food and Drink Wales Industry Board

Progress on establishing the board was slower than had been set out in the action plan. The Deputy Minister announced that full membership of the board was in place but that a chair had yet to be elected. The Chair – Andy Richardson, Head of Corporate Affairs at Volac – was subsequently elected by board members in January 2016.

The action plan had intended for the board to be ‘fully established in 2014’. The Deputy Minister said the delay was ‘because we didn’t have the breadth across the industry or a board that was as diverse as we would want it to be’.

An application process for board members was initially held in autumn 2014 resulting in a number of industry people being appointed to a ‘shadow board’. In spring 2015 there was a further application process to ‘increase the breadth of coverage of the Board’.

Trade identity

The Deputy Minister said that:

The ‘Bwyd a Diod Cymru’ identity is being redefined. It’s an overarching identity, which has been successfully used at UK and international exhibitions. The current work is scoping its capabilities and developing the imagery and 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 specific product 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.

Food Awards

The Welsh Government hasn’t announced a successor to the True Taste Awards. However it did work 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. The Deputy Minister said:

True Taste never really gained the traction that we would’ve liked it to gain in Wales in terms of what the public’s understanding was of it, retailers’ understanding of it and in terms of food producer engagement with it. However, the Great Taste awards are a well-known, well-respected brand.

Recent Great Taste winners from Wales can be seen here: Great Taste Awards.

Food Tourism Action Plan

In May 2015 the Welsh Government launched a Food Tourism Action Plan (2015-20). 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. Micro businesses are defined as those with 0-9 employees.);
  • £5.7 billion turnover;
  • £1.3 billion gross value added (GVA); and
  • 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;
  • 14% are cereal and cereal preparations; and
  • 12% are fish and crustaceans.

Further figures and infographics are available in the Welsh Government’s baseline date report mentioned above: The value of welsh food and drink.