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Project HELIX delivers £235 million boost to the Welsh food and drink industry

(left to right) Arwyn Davies, Food Centre Wales; Professor David Lloyd, Zero2Five Food Industry Centre; Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths; Martin Jardine, Food Technology Centre

The latest outputs from Project HELIX, an initiative developed to boost innovation and efficiency in the Welsh food and drink industry, show it has delivered over £235 million of impact, since it launched in 2016.

The Welsh Government and EU-funded Project HELIX is a pan-Wales strategic initiative, delivered by Food Innovation Wales, which is a partnership of three food centres based in north, mid/west and south Wales.

Eligible companies have access to a range of expertise to help them grow and succeed through developing innovative new products, increasing their efficiency and adopting a strategic approach to business.

To date Project HELIX has delivered clear benefits to the Welsh food and drink industry including:

  • £235 million impact
  • 529 jobs created and a further 2755 safeguarded
  • 996 individuals and 628 businesses supported
  • 1039 training days undertaken
  • 394 business start-ups assisted
  • 905 new markets accessed, and
  • 1587 new food and drink products developed

Commenting on the success, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, said: “These figures show what a positive impact Project HELIX has had on our food and drink industry and underlines the importance of helping businesses grow, innovate, compete and reach new markets.

“A £235 million boost, new jobs created and others safeguarded, new products developed, new businesses launched, a more skilled workforce – all this is helping to further enhance Wales’s great and growing reputation in the international food and drink industry. I would urge producers and manufacturers to explore what support is available through Project HELIX and how its expertise and advanced technical facilities can be of benefit to them.”

Companies who have received support from Project HELIX include Puffin Produce. Managing Director, Huw Thomas said, “As a result of the knowledge and expertise from Food Innovation Wales, we have been able to adapt and strengthen our quality management systems at Puffin Produce; resulting in maintaining our BRCGS and Red Tractor certification. The support we have received from Project HELIX has been invaluable and we look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Alana Spencer, of Ridiculously Rich added, “The help available from Food Innovation Wales was amazing and we couldn’t have done it without them. They were there every step of the way, before we had even built the bakery! They helped us with any question, large or small and even came out to visit us on site on numerous occasions to guide us in the best way to become SALSA approved. The funding available to businesses in Wales is incredibly helpful, this process would have taken much longer had we not had this help and may have substantially delayed growth for the business.” 

Meanwhile, for Emma Morris, Trailhead Fine Foods’ Business Development Manager, “The advice and help the Food Technology Centre has given us has been invaluable.  With their help we have been able to retain our SALSA certification. Without such certification it is difficult for food businesses to grow and it has offered us great opportunities to gain new customers and expand into new markets.

“Not only has the centre helped us but the relevant documentation has inspired us to take ownership of the process so we can learn and develop. The whole team at the Food Technology Centre has been supportive and helpful. They have been there throughout, reassuring us that we are going down the right path.”

Professor David Lloyd, on behalf of Food Innovation Wales, expressed his delight at the latest figures, “Through Project HELIX we have been able to support food and drink businesses in Wales through upskilling workforce, supporting new business start-ups, creating and safeguarding jobs and helping businesses grow and thrive.

“The food and drink sector is vital to Wales’s economy and by working closely with the Welsh Government, academia and the Welsh food industry we have set ambitious targets for innovation, job creation and economic growth within the food and drink sector.”