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Welsh food & drink showcased at first Asda supplier conference

Gruffudd Roberts, Asda’s Local Buyer for Wales, and Enfys Jones, Senior Manager Trade Programmes, Food & Drink Wales. Credit: Wales News Service

Supermarket retailer, Asda, has held its first conference focussing on Welsh food and drink and the value of Welsh produce.

Jointly organised by Asda and the Welsh Government Trade Development Programme, the supplier conference included more than 40 Welsh food and drink producers – including existing and potential Asda suppliers.

The event featured well-known Welsh brands and producers of all sizes and gave them a valuable opportunity to meet with Asda representatives, including the Wales Buyer, Head of Local Buying, and the Vice President of Stores.

The conference was held at Hensol Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, where suppliers heard presentations on a variety of Asda’s business activities, including strategy, commercial planning, rewards and loyalty, point of sale, and marketing.

Gruffudd Roberts, Asda’s Local Buyer for Wales said, “Supporting local suppliers in Wales has been a priority for Asda ever since we opened stores here nearly 50 years ago. Selling local products is a business imperative – because our customers tell us that they want to see a range of great quality Welsh products in their local stores.

“We care about local sourcing because it’s a cornerstone of our business and supports the communities we serve, and we are delighted to have over 40 Welsh suppliers in Welsh Asda stores.”

There were also presentations on the latest market data and the Welsh Government’s Food and Drink Insight Programme’s ‘Value of Welshness’ research – which showed that 80 per cent of Welsh shoppers would prefer to buy Welsh products.

The idea of holding a suppliers conference emanated from the Royal Welsh Show Food & Drink Wales Business Lounge held in July, in which Asda took part.

Jason Ellis of Hirwaun-based Ellis Eggs Ltd, who attended the conference, said, “The conference allowed my business to be updated into the way Asda is moving forward, which allows us to focus on our future planning whilst working towards the same direction as Asda.”

Also attending the conference was Simon James of Edwards of Conwy. He said the North Wales-based butchery business had “Renewed confidence that Asda recognise the value of regional products at board level and will now expand their focus on range expansion and tackling the key issues local suppliers face as well as unlocking the unique level of focus Welsh suppliers can offer at store level.”

Included in the conference was a ‘Meet the Buyer’ session for six potential new suppliers to present their products to Asda. At the same time, a Welsh food and drink display highlighted a wide range of Welsh products, along with new products recently listed by Asda – including beer, gin, bread, cakes, and meat – which will be in stores soon.

Gruffudd Roberts said, “We are extending our commitment by announcing that we will be listing 37 new Welsh products, coming from both new and existing Welsh suppliers by the end of the year, and we can’t wait to see these land in stores in the coming weeks.”

Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths said: “Opportunities for suppliers and retailers to meet and discuss the marketplace at a dedicated event, such as at this conference, are important.

“It is great to see Asda and the Trade Development Programme working together to deliver this event.

“As demonstrated by the ‘Value of Welshness’ research, there is strong consumer support for Welsh food and drink. By working together retailers and suppliers can capitalise on this demand to further enhance Wales’ reputation as a producer of high quality and innovative food and drink.”