The food and drink industry in Wales was given a significant boost last month (November) to reach its ambitious 2020 target of annual sales growth to £7 billion, a 30% increase on the current level.
The three food centres in Wales, Zero2Five Food Industry Centre, Cardiff, Food Centre Wales, Horeb and Food Technology Centre, Llangefni, have signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate increased co-operation and co-ordination under a fledgling brand recently unveiled, titled Food Innovation Wales.
As Welsh food technologists converged for the second year running at Food Matters Live, held in London from 17-19 November, a range of companies from the Principality were present to showcase how Wales is increasingly innovating and becoming a testing ground for food innovation and new product development.
The overall commercial gain for companies attending last year’s event included selling to high profile restaurants and companies such as Jamie’s Italian and British Airways. A range of food and drink businesses were present again this year under the Food & Drink Wales banner, from gluten free marshmallows through to the use of superfood chia berry in snack bars.
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Food & Farming, Rebecca Evans AM, has welcomed the increased Welsh presence at this year’s show and said: “It is fitting that Food and Drink Wales and Food Innovation Wales have a strong presence at Food Matters Live. This cross-sector event brings together professionals from across the industry to address one of the most important challenges of our time: the relationship between food, health, and nutrition and their connections with the environment, population health and wellbeing. We as a government recognise the vital role food innovation can play in contributing to a range of health and wellbeing issues while also increasing economic growth through ensuring Wales is the home of genuine high-quality, well researched, food and drink innovation.”
David Lloyd from Zero2Five Food Industry Centres, speaking on behalf of Food Innovation Wales, added: “Food Matters Live provides a platform for thought-provoking, cross-sector debate and encourages greater collaboration. Wales’s presence at this show builds on last year’s success as we look to break out into new markets and offer new products. The Food Innovation Wales brand cements the activity of the three food centres that provide a pan Wales delivery. Its strategic targets will encompass both Welsh and international partners to ensure global knowledge exchange, whether that be in technical systems, hygiene practices or food law.”
One client who attended last year’s show was Plas Farm’s Business Development Director Rhian Williams, who stated: “What makes this show stand out from the others is that not only are you dealing with the buyers and gaining potential business but also attending seminars for CPD purposes which allows my staff to become more aware of trends and gives them practical advice based on real-life experiences”
Sokhu Sandhu of Samosaco added: “Food Matters Live exposed my company to new niche markets and introduced new buyers to our company. In a rapidly evolving sector events such as this are vital for company growth”
During Food Matters Live 2015 over 400 exhibitors showcased the latest ingredients for a range of applications, helping companies to add additional health benefits to their products and meet consumer expectations in areas such as providing clean and clear labels without compromising on taste.
Along with the Welsh Government, Food Innovation Wales successfully recruited 14 companies to exhibit at the three-day event. They included:
• The Mushroom Garden – oils and mushroom caviar
• The Pudding Compartment – healthier version of current range
• Beri Da – berry based products
• Plas Farm – fat free frozen yoghurt
• Casa del Cymru – innovative products
• Wholebake – healthy nutritional products
• Meet the Alternative – meat alternative products
• Bonny Confectionery – gluten free marshmallows
• Just Love Foods – nut free cakes
• Samosaco – vegetarian and vegan snacks and meal solutions
• Prima Foods – offers innovative solutions
• Calbee – great tasting snacks that are healthier alternatives to crisps and fatty products
• Bakestone Bakery – gluten and dairy free including Welsh Cakes, muffins and celebration cakes
• Mon Monkfish
Food and Drink Wales