By MICK WHITWORTH
Speciality food producers in Wales are being encouraged to collaborate with distributors and fellow suppliers to improve supply links with the rest of the UK – and particularly the lucrative London market.
David Edwards (pictured) of Total Food Marketing – Menter a Busnes, which provides business mentoring as part of the Welsh Government’s Trade Development Programme for SMEs, told FFD: “We’re at the very early stages of piloting a fine food consolidation service to help Welsh producers become more attractive to customers across the border.”
Edwards said more English retailers would buy from smaller Welsh producers if they could do so on a one-invoice, one-delivery basis, similar to the services provided from the West Midlands by Heart Distribution and Heart of England Fine Foods.
“At the Speciality & Fine Food Fair [at Olympia in September] retailers were saying, ‘We like this, this and this, but we don’t want to have to deal with three different producers. Is there anyone that can pull it all together?’”
He stressed there was no question of the Welsh Government becoming involved in distribution. Its role was to “help producers collaborate, where possible, in finding more efficient ways of working and in some cases help to facilitate introductions to service providers”.
Delivery has long been an issue for Welsh rural producers looking to ‘export’ to the rest of the UK. “Retailers will say, ‘I’d like three cases of this’, but then you add on the cost of delivery and it becomes more of a challenge.”
Edwards was speaking to FFD at the Welsh Government’s new central London offices, where the media were introduced to some of the niche Welsh brands currently selling in London, including charcuterie maker Trealy Farm and fledgling patés and smoked foods business Cnwd (prononouced “C’nood”). Tom Harding of London-based cheesemonger Mootown, who handles several Welsh artisan cheeses, was also at the event.