Morale-boosting support and collaboration are helping Welsh food and drink companies overcome the challenges of Covid-19 and maintain their winning ways.
Despite a turbulent six months, a host of Welsh producers have proved the excellence of their products with a ‘galaxy’ of stars in the Great Taste awards.
Many of the winners have been supported by Food & Drink Wales and its Cluster initiative, which fosters connections between businesses in the sector.
Both the Fine Food Wales Cluster and the Seafood Wales Cluster are facilitated by the Cywain project. Delivered by Menter a Busnes, the Cywain project supports the development of growth-orientated businesses in the food and drink sector in Wales.
Soon after the start of the pandemic, Cywain launched the #SupportLocalSupportWales campaign. This is accompanied by an online map (https://menterabusnes.cymru/cywain/en/our-producers/ ) which directs to food and drink producers from across Wales who can provide an online shop and delivery service.
Clusters Team Leader, Sioned Best, said “We recognise how difficult things have been over the past months, and through the clustering programme, we have been supporting our clients in a variety of ways.
“We will continue to help them mitigate the new challenges posed by Covid-19 and encourage and support them as they establish and grow their enterprises.
“Their success at the Great Taste awards demonstrates the skill and tenacity of Welsh businesses who despite extraordinary circumstances continue to develop and produce outstanding food and drink.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said, “I congratulate all the Great Taste winners on their success, during a year which has been like no other.
“Their achievements are a reflection of their talent and the quality of Welsh produce. These awards also underline the importance of the support network available to food and drink producers across Wales, as we continue to live and work in the most challenging of times.”
Môn Dressed Crab, a small family business started five years ago when Tracey Hodson began cooking a few locally caught crab for friends and family on Anglesey.
It wasn’t long before restaurants, and local eateries became interested, and Môn Dressed Crab took off.
Tracey explains, “We’ve got a small processing unit in Church Bay, and I buy the crab from the fishermen who land their catch here.
“I’d never entered any awards before, but Sian Davies at the Seafood Cluster encouraged me to give it a go. She’s always been a great help, so I took her advice – and we won a Great Taste two-star gold!”
The advent of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions has brought changes for Môn Dressed Crab, but it has brought new customers too.
“When lockdown came our trade with the restaurants stopped, so I thought I’d better do something. So, I started using social media to reach the public, and we’ve been flat out with deliveries.
“With restaurants starting back up we couldn’t do all the home deliveries, but we wanted to keep our new customers so now they collect from us.
“Back in March, I didn’t know if we’d be able to carry on, but we’ve got new customers and an award which we didn’t expect!”