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Bumper crowds and deals worth £500,000 clinched at trade expo

DEALS worth more than £500,000 were clinched at a two-day trade expo organised by a top Welsh food distribution company.

Bumper crowds attended the Harlech Foodservice Food and Drink Expo which made a triumphant return after being cancelled last year because of Covid.

Around 2,000 customers attended the high profile event at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

The Expo is one of the highlights of the catering calendar for food and drink producers and their trade customers across tourism, restaurants, pubs and cafes in North Wales, the North West and Midlands.

Represented at the 100 stands were household names like Young’s Seafood, Wall’s, Hellman’s and McCain’s and North Wales-based big players like Jones Village Bakery, Edwards the Welsh Butcher and South Caernarfon Creameries and specialist artisan producers.

David Cattrall, the managing director of Harlech Foodservice which has bases in Criccieth and Chester, said: “The numbers were even better than the last event, two years ago, so I’m very pleased.

“We’ve had a lot of very good feedback which suggests that very many of our customers went away happy and I think everyone has really enjoyed getting out and talking to each other in person again.

“Suppliers have been having really good conversations with customers and everything suggests we’re getting back to business as normal.

“We’ve done our best to help by offering really strong support to make sure there are some really good deals and by introducing a special app to order it meant customers could take advantage of those deals right through until Sunday night.”

Many of those attending were long-time Harlech customers – like Caroline Lee, who runs the Lion Hotel, in Tudweiliog, with her brother, Martin.

She said: “Harlech have been supplying us since they started 50 years ago when our mum and dad had the Lion and they’ve always been very reliable and provided a great service.

“It’s good to have the Expo back after a year out and to see it so busy.”

Gary Pritchard, of Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy, ay Llannefydd, near St Asaph, said: “It’s really nice to be back and to see so many familiar faces and lots of new ones.

“I’ve been speaking to lots of people who were customers before the pandemic and who are now coming back to us and we’re getting excellent feedback.

“We’ve just had someone contacting us from Pontypridd saying it’s the best yoghurt they’ve ever tasted – it’s nice when that happens.”

Ffion Davies, national account manager for South Caernarfon Creameries, Wales’s biggest dairy co-op, said: “It’s been very busy and it’s just been good to get out and speak to people.

“We’re hoping business will pick up now. We’re certainly getting plenty of interest.

“This is the first show we’ve been to since March 2020 and it’s great to see our customers face to face again.”

Baker Glen Simpson, from Jones Village Bakery, based in Minera and Wrexham, was busy handing out samples of their range of savoury pastries and he said: “We missed all this with Covid so it’s great to be back to normality.

“Harlech are very good customers of ours and being back here is a real breath of fresh air with lots of familiar faces and plenty of new ones too.”

Edwards the Welsh Butcher, from Conwy, reported lots of interest and commercial manager Luned Evans said: “The first day in particular was very busy and it’s nice being out and about again.

“We are also seeing lots of interest from cafes and hotels – they are trying to make up for lost time over the last two years.”

Dave Ahern, of Plant Punk Foods was on the Patchwork Paté stand cooking up his newly-developed veggie burgers with zero chemicals and next to no fat: “Patchwork have installed a new production line in Ruthin for them – they’re the only plant-based burger in the world made with 100 per cent natural ingredients.

“They were just launched in January and the response we’ve been getting is incredible with lots of interest here at the Expo.”

The event was organised by Harlech head of purchasing and marketing Matt Flynn who said: “Everyone has been very positive and the outlook for the new season is very good.

“The first day was so busy you could hardly move down the aisles, especially around the ice cream producers.

“For the first time we used digital ordering and we had two big screens up to show people how to use the new app.

“Customers have always been able to walk round and place orders but now with the app we have been able to extend the period for ordering which has meant they can take advantage of the fantastic offers for an extra three days through to Sunday which should streamline the system.”

Harlech Foodservice Ltd employs 200 staff and the company runs a fleet of vehicles to deliver 5,000 product lines to cafés, restaurants, pubs and public sector customers across North and Mid-Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands and the North West.

For more on Harlech Foodservice go to https://www.harlech.co.uk/ and to https://www.facebook.com/HarlechFoods for Expo updates.