We’ve just seen the return of BlasCymru/TasteWales, Wales’ largest international food and drink event, which was held under strict Covid-19 guidelines.
BlasCymru/TasteWales, staged for the third time by Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Government’s food division, brought together buyers, food industry professionals and a broad range of Welsh producers – from large-scale companies to artisan brands to showcase world-class produce and help open new markets and trade relationships. A virtual meet is also being arranged with the international buyers following the event.
One of the main draws of the event was the conference, titled ‘Food and Drink for Future Generations’ which primarily focused on sustainability and climate change and inspired delegates to take action in their organisations and their lives to address the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.
Key themes that were highlighted at this year’s conference included ‘how Wales is addressing the sustainability challenge’ and ‘making food manufacturing more sustainable’, with keynote addresses from Adam Henson, Countryfile presenter and farmer, and Professor Mike Berners-Lee, author and leading expert in sustainability and carbon footprinting.
During the two day event, over 200 new products were showcased that highlighted the best of the best from across the industry. Products ranged from plant-based desserts to the UK’s first carbon-neutral potatoes and alcohol free botanic drinks.
The number of products developed during what has been an incredibly challenging year is clear proof of the resilience and innovation within the sector in Wales.
Further new products, which have been produced over the last 12 months, included new yogurt flavours, seasonal craft ales, a range of flavoured oat crackers, organic fermented smoked kraut and beet slaw packaged in sustainable, fully recycled packaging.
Food and Drink Wales along with Food Innovation Wales have played an important role in supporting businesses to develop these products including bringing companies together to share and develop new ideas. This has been boosted further by a wealth of support on offer including start-ups through Cywain and training and skills development through Food Skills Cymru.
One of the companies showcasing their new range of vegan potted plant based desserts was Daffodil Foods.
Director Lynne Rowlands said: “We have a range of plant based chocolate truffle desserts, which taste fantastically rich and indulgent with a melt-in-the mouth silky texture. Made to a vegan recipe in Wales to reduce food miles.
“Potted Plants desserts are naturally better for you and better for the environment. Their specialised heat treatment extends the shelf life to reduce the risk of contributing to food waste. The desserts are packed in glass ramekin jars with metal caps, which are currently more effectively recycled in the UK than most plastics.
“BlasCymru/TasteWales provided us with a great opportunity for us to showcase our sustainable chocolate desserts as well as our wider offer.”
Other companies at the event with new products include Puffin Produce and their ‘Root Zero’, the UK’s first carbon-neutral potatoes, and Old Coach House Distillery with the world’s first alcohol free distillery.
Huw Thomas, Managing Director of Puffin Produce said: “The food system contributes up to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing the planet to heat up faster than ever before. We have to act now, so we’re on a mission to become carbon neutral and farm in a way that protects and regenerates our land, plants and wildlife.
“Root Zero potatoes are certified carbon neutral and grown using sustainable farming practices to remove carbon dioxide, create healthy soil and increase local biodiversity. We are hoping that these sustainably packed products will start to tackle the huge impact of the food industry on climate change.”
Old Coach House Distillery Director, Cameron Mackay said: “We are a family run business, handcrafting Stillers – an award winning range of alcohol free botanical drinks which are copper pot distilled using the finest organic grade herbs and spices, blended with Welsh spring water.
“Our cutting edge products are a perfect fit for anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle, adventurer or just a food and drink lover.”
There was also a chance to meet with industry professionals who were able to advise businesses on how to grow and accelerate with on-hand expert advice and knowledge at bespoke zones which included Innovation, Skills and Business, Cluster Network, Tourism, International, Sustainability, Investor, and Advanced Manufacturing.
Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said:
“BlasCymru/TasteWales presents a great opportunity for Welsh businesses to showcase the very best food and drink products made right here in Wales.
“I am incredibly proud of our fantastic food and drink sector and for over 200 new products to be developed, as we have dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, clearly shows the resilience and innovative spirit which runs throughout Welsh producers.
“It has been a challenging time for everyone in the industry, but the response of our businesses has been nothing short of magnificent.
“The Welsh Government will continue to support the food and drink sector as we recover from the pandemic and I look forward to seeing more new products being made in Wales and enjoyed around the globe.”
The two-day event, with key sponsor being Princes Limited, took place at the International Convention Centre (ICC Wales), adjacent to the world renowned five-star Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, south Wales on 27 and 28 October 2021. For information about Food and Drink Wales visit gov.wales/foodanddrinkwales
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