A new £21 million programme to strengthen Wales’ food and drink sector is expected to safeguard thousands of jobs and deliver over £100 million for the Welsh economy.
Welsh Government’s Project HELIX provides funding support for research into global food production, trends and waste to help small to medium sized food manufacturers across Wales to increase production and reduce waste.
The project is funded through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) and is expected to create 370 new jobs, primarily in rural Wales and the Valleys, while safeguarding a further 2,000 over the next 5 years.
The research will take into consideration new challenges and opportunities facing the industry as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The findings will provide Welsh producers with the best opportunity for growth and economic impact.
The project was launched at Welsh Government’s TasteWales event today where over 100 Welsh producers showcased the very best of the Welsh food and drink industry to over 150 UK and international buyers.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
“We’ve set ambitious targets for the food and drink industry to achieve growth of 30% by 2020 and I am pleased to say we are firmly on course to meet that target. Project HELIX is the next step on the journey to ensure our food and drink industry is globally recognised for quality, creativity and skills.”
Developed by Food Innovation Wales (FIW), which is a partnership of the 3 food centres in Wales, Project HELIX will support food manufacturers over the next 5 years in:
- Innovation –fast-tracking new innovative products and food company start-ups
- Efficiency – assisting businesses to reduce waste during food processing thereby securing costs savings and waste reduction
- Strategy – seeking to ensure a world-class industry through advanced skills in key areas, such as food technology.
David Lloyd from Cardiff Metropolitan University’s ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre, one of the FIW partners said:
"We want the industry to be innovative right across the board, from improving nutritional standards and new product development in response to health and well-being challenges to retail and market trends. Our aim is to put Wales on the global food and drink map, and to do that, HELIX will provide high levels of support such as identifying business people who want to invest or advising food manufacturers on technical standards and regulations.”
Martin Jardine, Food Technology Centre Manager at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, another of the Food Innovation Wales partners, said:
"Efficiency is critical to business success, from being more responsive to changing markets, meeting environmental challenges like reducing food miles and food waste, right through to making the supply chain more effective. By forensically looking at ways to become more efficient on each and every step of the food and drink journey, I’m confident that the sector in Wales has a very bright future.”
Completing the FIW partnership is Eirlys Lloyd of Food Centre Wales based in Ceredigion, who added:
"By being more strategic there is huge potential for the Welsh food and drink sector to improve and realise its ambitious growth targets. Through the HELIX project we will support businesses in Wales to analyse their entire operation and strategically plan every element, including industrial manufacturing, food processing, public engagement and skills training and development.”