THIS year’s Wales Food Fortnight has provided a virtual launch pad for food and drink businesses in Wales as they set their sights on increased global trade in 2021.
Wales Food Fortnight is part of Wales Week Worldwide, an annual showcase of activities and events that celebrates and promotes everything that’s great about Wales on an international stage.
The festival usually takes place across 20 countries, but due to Coronavirus restrictions, it meant a more virtual focus to this year’s activities, which played host to a series of cookery demonstrations, talks and competitions as the very best of Welsh food and drink was showcased to a global audience from 20 February – 7 March 2021.
Commenting on the wide range of events taking place in spite of the difficult circumstances, Welsh Government’s Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths MS said:
“It is more important than ever that we continue to support Welsh food and drink businesses as many have faced tremendously difficult challenges over the past year or so.
“I’m delighted to see such a broad range of different activities taking place to promote our thriving industry to an international audience. We have a long and proud tradition of producing outstanding food and drink, with an abundance of natural resources and food ingredients, and a concerted focus on developing new technologies and innovation in food production.”
Wales Food Fortnight events, headed by Welsh Produce, was set up in May 2020 due to the events industry shutting down because of the pandemic. All events and activities were hosted and streamed live on the Welsh Produce online platform and featured a live stage with up to 100,000 viewers plus live streaming to the Wales Produce and Wales Food Fortnight Facebook page; live and recorded sessions including demos, talks and live tours.
Countries reached included the UK, USA, United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, Portugal, Philippines, Ireland, Germany, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Australia, Hungary, Japan and New Zealand.
Commenting on the success of the 16-day virtual event, organiser Davina Carey-Evans of Wales Produce said,
“As a Wales Week Worldwide Partner, Welsh Produce co-ordinated activities both home and abroad for the celebrations this year – 16 virtual days where Wales meets the world and when the world celebrates Wales.
“It provided an opportunity for organisations in Wales, a platform in which to promote their products and services and develop new regional, national and international based audiences, partnerships and connections.”
Aber Falls is one business that has supported all events. Commenting on behalf of Aber Falls, Managing Director James Wright said,
“Virtual events are new for us all, we must all learn to trade without travel. At Aber Falls Distillery we focus on one product, give a demonstration either live or supply a video of how it can be used and give a special offer to encourage sales. The booths at Welsh Produce are easy to use and we value the efforts they are making to match buyers with producers.”
Partners and sponsors of this year’s celebration included Welsh Produce, Food and Drink Wales, Cywain, Menter a Busnes, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, Village Bakery, Food and Drink Wales clusters – Fine Food Cluster, Seafood cluster and Honey cluster, Port to Plate and St David’s World.
The activity is hot on the heels of the launch of a strategic vision for the industry to become a leading light in producing sustainable food and drink.
Working closely with the industry, Welsh Government’s vision seeks to place sustainable practices at the heart of the industry’s post-Covid recovery. Focusing on areas such as growth and productivity, environmental impact, fair work and raising standards throughout, by working collaboratively, it is hoped that government and industry can create one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world.
The announcement comes following extensive preparation work that has been ongoing in recent years to build the foundation blocks for the ‘green shoots’ strategic vision emerging out of the joint disruption caused by Brexit and Covid-19.