Food and drink industry to be boosted by action plan

Food minister Alun Davies wants sales up to £7bn by 2020

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Food and drink producers in Wales will be boosted by a new partnership between the industry and government, the food minister has said.

A new action plan to drive sales up by 30% to £7bn by 2020 has been launched by Alun Davies in Cardiff.

A new board to speak for the food industry will be set up and Welsh branding developed to promote trade.

Mr Davies said he wanted to focus on exports, skills and training to open up new opportunities for producers.

At the launch, he added he wanted the government to be called to account if the targets are not reached.

The action plan - Towards Sustainable Growth - is said to recognise the importance of a sector which the Welsh government says accounts for 45,000 jobs and a turnover of £5.2bn a year.

The list of measures include:

  • Creating a Food & Drink Wales Industry Board to provide leadership and a voice for the industry
  • Developing a new Food & Drink Wales brand identity to emphasise Welsh provenance and promote trade and market development
  • A focus on training to create a skilled and capable workforce throughout the food chain

The minister promised a review of the promotion of Welsh food and drink after scrapping the True Taste Awards in 2013, which he said had not pushed the Welsh origins of produce strongly enough.

'Central to culture'

Sustainable growth will also be stressed as a key element of the action plan, to be presented by Mr Davies to an audience of 150 food businesses, farmers' leaders and other interested parties on Thursday.

Mr Davies said the sector was "progressing well", but needed to do more to reach the target of increasing turnover by 30% in seven years.

He said he had listened to feedback from the industry on the type of support it needed.

He said: "I cannot overstate the importance of Welsh food. It has an impact on almost every part of our daily lives from our economy, climate, health and our ability to learn - as well as being central to the culture of Wales.

"Despite successes in recent years, so far we have only scratched the surface in terms of what we can achieve and I see this action plan opening up new opportunities for our food producers in terms of exports, skills and training and increasing the profile and reputation of Welsh food."

Further attempts to protect the names of Welsh products - following official EU recognition of such as sea salt from Anglesey and Pembrokeshire potatoes - are also likely to be supported.

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