Fresh cash boost revealed for Welsh food industry

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Project HELIX has supported innovation and the development of new technology for the food industry
Project HELIX has supported innovation and the development of new technology for the food industry
A £22m boost to Welsh food and drink firms has been announced by Welsh minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths.

The announcement was made at BlasCymru (TasteWales) in Newport – an event taking place on 20 and 21 March, which brings global buyers and Welsh producers together to build the industry. 

The new investment would support business growth opportunities and ambitions, propel innovation forward and help firms respond to the challenges raised by Brexit, said trade body Food & Drink Wales. 

The BlasCymru/TasteWales event has returned to Celtic Manor in Newport two years after its launch there, uniting more than 100 Welsh food and drink producers and 200 buyers. More than a third of the buyers due to visit are international, from countries such as Germany, France, the UAE, Qatar and Japan. 

This year, a new Investor Zone has offered delegates the opportunity to meet potential investors and fund providers. 

£7bn target​ 

The Welsh food and farming sector was worth £6.8bn in 2018, close to the £7bn target it had set for 2020. 

Latest export figures showed Welsh food and drink exports were worth £539m in 2018 – up 2% or £10m on the previous year. Particular growth came from non-EU countries, which delivered £145m of exports during the year, adding £25m to 2017’s figure. 

“Our food and drink sector is globally renowned and a real Welsh success story,”​ said Griffiths, speaking ahead of BlasCymru/TasteWales. “However, we cannot let Brexit derail the sector’s success and we must take every opportunity to showcase all it has to offer globally. 

“As BlasCymru/TasteWales gets underway again, I am delighted to announce an additional £22m for the sector to build on its success and support the industry to become more resilient and respond to the challenges and opportunities Brexit brings. 

‘Crucial time’ 

“BlasCymru/TasteWales therefore comes at a crucial time for the industry. The inaugural event in 2017 generated £16m of new contracts for Welsh food and drink businesses. I’m sure this year’s event will be equally successful and provide great opportunities for the sector to continue its success and thrive post-Brexit.”​ 

The announcement came days after the disclosure that Project HELIX, an initiative to boost innovation and efficiency in the Welsh food and drink industry, has delivered £82m-worth of growth. 

Using state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, the scheme has provided technical support and bespoke training to help businesses develop hundreds of new products, innovate, be more productive, improve skills and reduce waste. 

Half way through the scheme, Project HELIX was well on its way to meet its targets early, Food & Drink Wales confirmed.

Benefits of Project HELIX

225 jobs created and a further 1,150 safeguarded

234 businesses assisted

129 new businesses established

203 new markets accessed, and

273 new products developed

The innovation scheme is delivered in partnership with three food centres based in Cardiff, Ceredigion and Anglesey as part of Food Innovation Wales. 

Food Innovation Wales has become a network partner of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food, Europe’s leading food innovation initiative. Supported by Welsh Government funding, this will establish a dedicated EIT Food presence in Wales, linking the Welsh industry to a wider consortium of key industry players, start-ups, research centres and universities from across Europe. 

EIT Food aims to collaborate closely with consumers to develop new knowledge and technology-based products and services, ultimately delivering a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for all European citizens. 

Through being an EIT Food member, Food Innovation Wales aims to be at the forefront of technology and research and build international partnerships to bolster the Welsh food and drink sector.

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