Food and Drink Wales Industry Board Newsletter

6 August 2020

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“The Food and Drink Wales Industry Board exists to champion food and drink producers in Wales. Our role has become especially important during the unprecedented challenges brought about by the Covid-19 crisis which have added to those we are experiencing as a result of our exit from the European Union.

FDWIB - Andy Richardson

With this in mind, our aim as a Board, is to always bring you concise, relevant and up-to-date information to keep you well informed about all of the latest developments impacting the industry.

Last week, in partnership with Welsh Government, we shared our Covid-19 Recovery Plan, an interim strategic and tactical plan outlining the best routes forward to help businesses get back on their feet. The plan encompasses the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry in Wales, with a road map supporting businesses as we emerge out of the coronavirus crisis. We have seen restrictions on the food and drink industry easing this week as indoor hospitality such as bars, cafes and restaurants began to reopen from Monday 3rd August.

As part of the Board’s mission to facilitate direct engagement between businesses and to help achieve the best success for the industry in Wales, the Board hosted a webinar on August 5th, to communicate and have an open discussion about the Covid-19 Recovery Plan. With 100 stakeholders in attendance, feedback from the webinar has given us encouragement to coordinate future webinars on a variety of other issues impacting the industry.

This webinar is part of the Board’s new webinar series offering businesses direct access to government support and expertise. The webinars will discuss key themes around coronavirus recovery and Brexit, among other topics.

If you have a topic or theme you would like to discuss or see as part of our webinar series, we encourage you to get in touch and share your insight and ideas. Together, we can work in tandem to achieve the best solutions and secure the future of our industry.”

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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  • On July 30th, the Board launched its Covid-19 Recovery Plan in partnership with Welsh Government. It encompasses the challenges and opportunities faced by food and drink businesses and producers across Wales. The short-term plan outlines actions to support the sector out of the coronavirus crisis. Additional detail on the plan can be found here.
  • To facilitate the direct engagement with food and drink businesses, and to help achieve the best outcomes for the industry in Wales, we have started a webinar programme offering businesses direct access to government support and expertise. The webinars will discuss key themes around coronavirus recovery and Brexit, among other topics. So far, we have hosted a webinar on the wider impacts of coronavirus on the food and drink industry, our Covid-19 Recovery Plan and managing cash reserves and tips for staying on top of cash flow. We are also in the process of coordinating a future webinar on the industry’s skills consultation and apprenticeship training.
  • We have restarted our recruitment campaign for additional members to join the Board and to include a broader representation from different sectors and areas of expertise. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Board, and for more information on the role, visit the following link.
  • The Board has recently appointed a skills sub-group involving select Board members to advise on best practices to help recruit and train staff across the industry. This week, the skills group played a part in extending the apprenticeships consultation from July 31st to August 31st, 2020. Additional detail on the consultation can be found below. For now, the skills sub-group and the Board, more generally, are in the process of coordinating a webinar on the consultation and the need for greater skills and apprenticeship training across the sector – watch this space for more info.
  • 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 exit the European Union in six months’ time.
  • We have continued to share links to information, support and toolkits via Twitter and LinkedIn as well as supporting with social media toolkits.

Important involvement: Food and drink apprenticeship consultation extended to August 31st, 2020

Following the efforts of the skills sub-group of the Board, the food and drink apprenticeship consultation has been extended from July 31st to August 31st, 2020, allowing businesses more time to respond and provide insight.

What is the consultation about? Welsh food and drink apprenticeships are programmes of learning designed around the needs of the employer to help recruit and train staff. Apprenticeship programmes can transform businesses by offering a route to fresh new, sector-skilled talent. Apprenticeships also provide employees the opportunity to gain additional skills while receiving outside training from an approved training provider.

Currently, a consultation is underway regarding proposed changes to the major apprenticeship pathway used by businesses. Sector skills council, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, is hosting two online consultations – one on Level 2 apprenticeship schemes to recruit new sector talent and Level 3 apprenticeship schemes designed to provide additional skills to already experienced employees. The links will also take you to the details of the proposed changes to each scheme.

We’re conscious many businesses across Wales are currently experiencing many pressures in regards to re-opening or re-starting operations due to coronavirus rules relaxing, but if apprenticeships are important to your business and/or sector, we would encourage you to respond to this very important consultation.

If you haven’t previously benefitted from the apprenticeship scheme but would like to in the future, it is essential for you to participate in this consultation as well. Deadline to respond is August 31st, 2020.

Voices from the industry with Polly Wilson, Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival

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The Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival has been in existence for 15 years, with more than 100 exhibitors and live demonstrations and activities attracting 10,000 visitors to the Vale of Glamorgan town over the May bank holiday weekend.

In March 2020 we cancelled the May festival having secured our exhibitors and being well on the way to finalising the full programme of the festival. Ticket sales are our largest source of income so without this the future of the festival was put in doubt. Luckily, our strong relationships with suppliers meant we were able to minimise the infrastructure costs (approximately £50k) and rolling over deposits to 2021. However, this means all our suppliers in turn are all out of pocket from not just our festival but all other contracts they will have lost which is very worrying. As a team, the two fee earners, were stood down in April once all stall cancellations and announcements had been completed. Hopefully, they will pick up tools again in September for 2021.

Minimising expenditure this year was key to the festival’s future. Falling back on long-standing relationships and a mutual keenness to return and work together in the future was essential and reiterated the importance of building the extended festival team since 2004.

Survival and adaptability are our number one priorities right now. Sadly, some exhibitors will not make it through the season without the festivals and we will miss them. Others have shown such resilience, selling online, donating to key workers, developing safe revenue streams to keep afloat. For some it has provided time to do the jobs there isn’t always time for - finishing websites, developing new products and so on. The festival industry will return and will show its own resilience in finding its own “new normal”. It is a terrifying time for all those who work in the industry (crew, marquee providers, sparkies, waste operatives to name a few) but we hope our suppliers and our friends will all survive to play again next year and have as much fun as ever.

In terms of government support for the festival sector I think we’d hope for kindness, realism and clear and consistent messaging. We’d like advice on the safest way to put on these type of events – in the future, without knee-jerk reactions. We are lucky to have the gift of time to work together to build protocols to suit all sizes and types of events - indoor exhibitions are not the same as outdoor markets. We all want to survive to continue to contribute to the rich and vibrant food and festival industries in Wales.

Stay connected for updates on Twitter and LinkedIn. Join our Facebook Group to collaborate workforce. Get in touch with us via email at



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