Food and Drink Wales Industry Board Newsletter

10 July 2020

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“The Food and Drink Wales Industry Board exists to champion food and drink in Wales and during this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, our aim as a Board is to bring you concise, relevant and up-to-date information to keep you well informed.

FDWIB - Andy Richardson

The Welsh Government has announced that pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in Wales will be able to reopen outdoors from 13 July, alongside a gradual opening up of the rest of the tourism industry in Wales.

The easing of restrictions will pose many challenges to food and drink businesses in Wales as they strive to reopen or begin to fulfil orders for the hospitality industry. It remains vital that we all continue to follow and adhere to government guidance and adhere to the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy as businesses begin to reopen.

Equally, the Board recognises the importance of food and drink businesses managing operational risks as they begin to reopen or continue to manufacture safely during this time. The Board supports the Covid-19 tool kits from Food Innovation Wales and urges businesses to use the resources available ensuring your business and the industry as a whole is well prepared for future outcomes.

Last week, the Board and Welsh Government hosted a webinar on the issues directly affecting the food and drink industry during the coronavirus situation. Due to the positive feedback from businesses on the webinar, we are planning to organise more webinars in the future alongside Welsh Government and Minister Lesley Griffiths to continue to engage with food and drink businesses.

Continue to watch this space for information on future webinars, operational guidance and important updates relevant to the food and drink industry in Wales.”

Andy Richardson, Chair of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board

Latest on Covid-19 for food and drink businesses

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Top news stories of the week

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Recent key actions from the Board

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  • The Board and Welsh Government hosted a webinar on the impact of coronavirus on the food industry in Wales. Over 130 industry stakeholders were in attendance to hear from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, David Lloyd and Martin Jardine. The focus of the webinar was to highlight the importance of business operating to high standards to minimise the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 in the workplace. The Board and Government listened to the insights and concerns expressed by businesses and mediated conversations to ensure the best solutions for the industry. The positive feedback from the webinar has given us encouragement to coordinate future webinars on a variety of other issues impacting the industry.
  • Working with Welsh Government officials we have completed a Covid-19 Recovery Plan which we will discuss with the Minister in the coming days. The plan encompasses the challenges and opportunities faced by Food and Drink Wales and will be discussing and developing this further in the coming days and weeks.
  • We have continued to develop our skills group, looking at opportunities to continue to upskill and support our sector via events such as TUCK IN as well as advocating for key skills issues to be addressed by Government in recovery and future planning.
  • Board members have met with and listened to the concerns from the hospitality and food service sector in Wales and have welcomed the news on reopening. This continuing pressure on suppliers into the foodservice and hospitality sector will be an agenda item during our next Ministerial meeting in mid-July.
  • We continue to work with other Welsh and UK food and drink organisations to ensure Welsh interests are maintained and we develop the best insight for our industry. This is particularly relevant as we move to a critical phase of the Brexit negotiations.
  • We have continued to share links to information, support and toolkits via Twitter and LinkedIn as well as supporting with social media toolkits.

Have your say on changes to Food and Drink Apprenticeships

Welsh Food and Drink apprenticeships are programmes of learning designed by employers to help recruit and train staff and there is a government review and reform taking place. A consultation is underway regarding proposed changes to the major apprenticeship pathways used by businesses and sector skills council The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink are hosting two online consultations. The links here and here will take you to the details of the proposed changes and to the consultations.

If apprenticeships are important to your business and/or sector it is ESSENTIAL that the reforms are informed by businesses and the consultations will take only a short time to complete. We appreciate businesses have many pressures to contend with at present but please do take a little time to respond to this very important consultation

Voices from the industry with Mel Constantinou, Baked by Mel

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Baked by Mel is my home baking business based in Llantwit Major. I supply a local coffee shop, a food collective, farm shop and also have an online shop for sending our bara brith in the UK. Our original bara brith is a previous double award-winning product at The Great Taste Awards and has been presented to HRH The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and stocked at London’s prestigious Fortnum & Mason. We also make a more savoury walnut and ale bara brith after requests from restaurants, which has been well-received.

So far, the biggest impact of Covid-19 for my business has been the loss of the food festivals and other big gatherings where I either run a stall or supply other traders.

It was also quite tricky getting ingredients at times and because of that and the sudden surge in post, I decided to close my website temporarily at the height of the pandemic, whilst it seemed everyone else was posting out whatever they could. I felt I couldn’t risk the delays in parcels arriving, given that I send out cake made without preservatives. I also felt it was the right thing, counting cake as a non-essential (though personally I beg to differ!)

Instead, I baked for my local community when and where needed, with customers using the porch as a collection point. Overall, I embraced the time with my family and the business took a backseat. However, orders for the Cowbridge Food Collective increased dramatically, as they offer a safe and reliable service to customers with a drive-through collection arrangement. I’m hoping more of those customers will stay shopping this way now, as it’s a good way of shopping locally and ordering directly from the producer.

I’m a one-woman show with a small business and I’m very grateful for that so far, I seem to have had a pause that hasn’t caused too much loss and can pick up where I left off. However, I know many other local, small food businesses that have been able to furlough their staff, but had difficulty securing help for themselves as owners or directors and many friends and contacts in this sector have had a very rough time of it as a result. Many restaurant owners, chefs and street food businesses have been left devastated, but there has been a notable surge in takeaways and deliveries which has been a true lifeline for some.

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