A recent conference in Cardiff aimed at securing further investment in the Welsh food and drink industry has been hailed as a major success.

With almost 150 producers from across Wales joining investors and funders from the likes of HSBC, Barclays and Xenos, the Food Innovation and Investment for Growth Conference was an opportunity for the producers to explore what funding opportunities are available to them as they seek to drive growth in the sector through innovating and ensuring they remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Organised by the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, the event resulted in an impressive 70 one to one meetings between producers and investors, and it is hoped this initial contact will result in significant capital being injected into the sector over the coming years.    

Attending the conference, Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, commented,

This conference has been developed by the Welsh Food and Drink Industry Board, in direct response to challenges set by Welsh businesses.  The board is key to driving growth in the sector and we are demonstrating that Welsh businesses are ready for new growth and looking for new investment opportunities to support that growth.”

One of the producers who attended the conference was Illtud Dunsford of Charcutier Ltd. in Carmarthenshire, who specialise in award-winning cured meats,

“The conference provided an excellent insight into the vision of the Food and Drink Wales board for the industry in Wales. Market trend analysis sessions in particular were thought provoking with regards consumer trends in shopping habits; highlighting the shift from real food to convenience. The meet the funder ‘speed dating’ event was novel but worthwhile and further meetings have already taken place highlighting potential funding opportunities for new innovative projects.”

Chris Griffiths, who is the New Investments Fund Manager at Finance Wales, outlined some of the reasons why he felt it was important that producers are aware of the funding opportunities that are available,

We’re rightfully proud of the successful food and drink industry we have in Wales and it’s our role to help build upon this good work to help the industry flourish even further. The aim of the conference was to de-mystify some of the different options that are available and help facilitate access to the right type of finance at the right stage in a business’ development. Hopefully, this can allow them to grow and concentrate on what they do best, which is producing world-class products.”

Andy Richardson, who is Chair of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board and Head of Corporate Affairs for Volac, said,

“I was delighted to see the number of food and financial businesses in attendance and there was a real energy and positivity from producers about the possibilities open to them for growth and investment. The funding and investment organisations present also expressed a strong interest in assisting the sector to develop, which is very encouraging.” 

“There were over 70 meetings on the day between producers and potential investors which just goes to show what an amazing outcome our industry can achieve when working in collaboration with Welsh Government. The Food and Drink Wales Industry Board is passionate about driving the sector forward in Wales and we are well on our way to achieving our target of 30% growth by 2020.”

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