Meeting the increased demand for Welsh brands was a key theme at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, on 23-26 July, which included input from the co-op sector.
Designed to showcased Welsh agri and food and drinks producers, the event was hosted by the Food and Drink Board for Wales and the Welsh Retail Consortium.
A total of 200 Welsh food and drink producers took part, including South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC), the nation’s oldest dairy co-operative, which has been owned by its farmers since 1938. The co-op marked its 80th anniversary at the show by launching a new cheese laced with Welsh whisky.
According to the 2017 Value of Welshness report, almost 50% of the British public would rather buy Welsh-branded lamb over any other lamb. The report also revealed that eight out of 10 Welsh shoppers (78%) would always buy Welsh if the price was right and 44% would pay more for Welsh goods.
As part of the show, TV chef and former wine merchant, Nigel Barden, spoke to representatives from Waitrose, Asda, the Co-op Group, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Aldi about their experience of working with Welsh producers and looking at why Welsh produce is so popular with consumers.
He said: “As a nation Wales does food well and it’s evident that retailers feel the same way as demand for Welsh produce continues to grow.
“Consumers and retailers value the strong identify of Welsh food and drink and the quality it represents. With support from industry representatives like the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, the sector’s growth will go from strength to strength. I’m excited to be showcasing all that Wales has to offer to some of the UK’s leading retailers and furthering the growth of Wales’ fine produce.”
Andy Richardson, chairman of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, said: “There is a special working relationship between the Food & Drink Board, Welsh government and the Welsh Retail Consortium. This relationship is crucial because it effectively joins up the supply chain to ensure Welsh food and drink products really take their place as exciting and healthy part of the diets of not just Welsh consumers but also those in the UK and in export markets.
“I’m delighted the board is working with the Welsh Retail Consortium and we look forward to meeting as many stakeholders as possible during the event.”
Speaking at the official opening of the show, John Davies, chair of the board of directors of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, said: “As always the society is proud to be able to provide an international stage for which it will play an instrumental role in formulating the future of the Welsh, and British, agricultural sector in these uncertain times.”
Earlier this year, the Co-op Group confirmed that shoppers were showing support for Welsh farmers with figures released by Co-op showing a near 20% jump in demand for Welsh lamb since the retailer extended its backing for British agriculture in May, 2017.
Simon Dryell, the Co-op Group’s head of local sourcing, said: “Our members and customers tell us that they care about local produce, food provenance and trust – and we are dedicated to doing just that.
“We have the ambition for our stores to be at the heart of local life, connecting communities and bringing people together. We have made further significant investment in Wales this year – investing in our people, stores, products, prices and communities. Local produce is made with a mix of pride, innovation, history and passion to deliver consistently great quality and taste – it is an exciting category where we see potential for continued sustainable growth.
“As a community retailer, the Co-op is committed to delivering what our members and customers want and care about. We are investing in our local communities, and working to showcase, celebrate and support great quality locally produced food and drink.”