by Charlotte Priddy, FUW policy officer
RESEARCH by the New Economics Foundation has shown that for every £1 spent on seasonal, local ingredients, a further 20 per cent of economic activity can be generated.
Therefore, in our response to the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into food and drink policy in Wales, the FUW made a clear case for the quality of Welsh food and the need for Wales to be renowned as a destination for food lovers, whilst stressing the important role the public sector has in promoting our food.
Indeed, brands such as Welsh Lamb are well established internationally, and Wales’ landscape and culture lend themselves to the development of a wider ‘brand’, akin to the Republic of Ireland’s ‘Origin Green’.
However, any such development should not threaten established brands such as Welsh Lamb, nor should it be detrimental to established supply chains, including those for commodity or premium products, which may fare better when labelled as ‘British’.
While it is important to be realistic about the limited room for market growth within Wales, the public sector has an important role to play in promoting Welsh produce through procurement policies.
If Welsh public bodies are not loyal to Welsh produce, this severely undermines the reputation of products both in Wales and beyond, and this principle extends to UK procurement policies as well.
We often remind the public about making a commitment to buy their food locally (it is after all of fantastic quality), it is worth noting that each year £2.4bn is spent by Government bodies on food.
While procurement agricultural produce Authorities has improved significantly over recent years, there remain significant numbers which fail to support British agriculture, choosing
instead to accept produce from countries which often fail to meet the UK’s high production standards.
Similar arguments can be made in relation to the food provided by those who cater for the millions of visitors to Wales each year. The positive impact of the current exchange rate on visitor numbers is an ideal opportunity to ensure visitors are provided with the best of Welsh produce, and that positive experiences of Welsh food are kept in mind when they return home.
As such, there is a need to step up efforts to encourage those catering for visitors to use quality Welsh produce, and this would also assist in the aspiration that Wales becomes an internationally renowned destination for food lovers.