The Welsh Government supported Food and Drink Wales Sustainability Cluster has reached its 100th producer milestone. These businesses produce a wide range of products from speciality items for niche markets to high volume items for major distribution networks.
As part of the Welsh Government’s overall strategic food and drink vision, the Sustainability Cluster was launched in January 2020 to support and develop sustainable business practices, whilst growing the industry, creating jobs and generating sustainable economic growth across Wales’ agri-food industry.
Using the triple helix approach of government, industry and academia working hand in hand to tackle common industry problems, the Sustainability Cluster has grown to 100 producers, along with government bodies and 30 academic organisations. The cluster is the central hub, providing intelligence to businesses, becoming the eyes and ears of the industry developing networks and industry expertise to help Wales become a world leader in sustainability.
One company who is a member of the Sustainability Cluster and has placed sustainability at the heart of its operation since its inception is Welsh craft brewer Drop Bear Beer Co. Founded in 2019 by Joelle Drummond and Sarah McNena, the alcohol-free brewery has become the world’s first certified carbon neutral alcohol-free brewer, bolstering the business’ commitment to combatting climate change.
The announcement of the company’s carbon neutral status comes hot on the heels of Drop Bear Beer being named ‘Green Start Up of the Year’ at the Wales Start Up Awards 2022, as well as achieving B-Corp status last December making them the first brewery in Wales to win the accreditation.
Commenting co-founder Joelle Drummond said, “The Cluster has been very useful. It has put us in touch with likeminded producers, and we have been able to access the wealth of expertise it contains. We are now confident that we can continue to grow our business in a way that focuses on sustainability.”
The Sustainability Cluster programme supports and develops sustainable business practices across Wales including:
- Raising awareness of Brand Wales and projecting its presence on the global stage
- Generating critical mass of involved and engaged members including business ambassadors to showcase best practice
- Building the industry’s capability sustainably to deliver the values of resilience, quality, responsibility and authenticity
- Growing businesses understanding of the benefits of, and evidence for, sustainable engagement including quantifying the financial benefits of sustainable achievements
- Providing a mechanism for, and facilitating of, sharing best practice and progress on their journey of continuous improvement
- Engaging with, and providing direction to, all other Food Clusters within Wales and internationally
Radnor Preserves is another member of the Food and Drink Wales Sustainability Cluster. Director Joanna Morgan said,
“Radnor Preserves, by its very nature of preserving fruit and vegetables, has sustainability right at its core. The company began life in an off-grid cottage with no electricity and uses time-honoured preserving traditions.
“We are committed to reducing food waste, use recyclable packaging and green energy. We are passionate about the environment, source organic ingredients and do not add any artificial additives or preservatives. All products are gluten free and suitable for vegan and vegetarians.
“We have passed the initial B-Corp assessment, with the aim of achieving full B-Corp status with the help of the Sustainability Cluster. By exhibiting with the Sustainability Cluster at the Sustainability Conference in London earlier this year, we now have a listing with a plant based food delivery service, which uses electric vans to deliver products.”
Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd Lesley Griffiths said, “We are supporting the Welsh food and drink industry in their quest to become one of the most sustainable supply chains in the world and it is great news the Cluster has reached 100 producers and is working with a further 30 academic organisations.
”The Sustainability Cluster is playing an important role in helping businesses on their journey of continuous improvement to deliver the values of resilience, quality, responsibility and authenticity.”
The work on sustainability is a natural extension of the Welsh Government’s will to take the lead and be proactive in all aspects of its food and drink industry and the wellbeing of its people, as illustrated by the country’s ‘Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015’ and the fact that Wales is now number three in the world on recycling, according to the Welsh Government’s Circular Economy and Waste team.
Food and Drink Wales’ vision is for the country to become the most sustainable food and drink nation in the world.