One of the largest groups of Welsh food and drink companies to exhibit at UK trade events will be heading to Birmingham later this month for two pivotal shows in the culinary calendar.

The group includes more than 40 fabulous Welsh producers who will be featured in two parallel events to be held at the NEC (April 25-27) – the Farm Shop & Deli Show 2022 and the Food & Drink Expo 2022.

There are a range of Welsh food and drink producers from established companies to new rising stars. They will be featured across a group of adjacent stands linking the two events.

The Welsh Government stand in the Food & Drink Expo area includes a dozen of Wales’ best-known food and drink producers.

While the Food & Drink Wales Fine Food Cluster and Honey Cluster stand in the Farm Shop & Deli Show will feature 20 companies who have collaborated to develop and present a special showcase to display their existing ranges and exciting new products to buyers. 

Co-ordinated by the Cywain project delivered by Menter a Busnes, the Fine Food Cluster provides a platform for ambitious Welsh food and drink businesses to work together. Cywain is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development / European Fisheries Fund.

Activities include working together in various areas, such as joint stands at events such as Farm Shop & Deli, sharing knowledge, identifying and solving common problems, organising group training and exploiting commercial opportunities collaboratively as a cluster.

Comprising of group and individual product displays, the Cluster showcase will also highlight the achievements of the Cluster’s Destination Projects - where members work with retailers to create sampling events to engage shoppers.

Billed as ‘where the specialist retail sector meets’, the Farm Shop & Deli Show is the leading event for farm shops, delicatessens, restaurants, butcheries, bakeries, food halls, and garden centres. Also, it includes the keenly contested Farm Shop & Deli Awards.

Attendance at the Show will give the companies the opportunity to meet a vital trade audience that includes retailers, buyers, market analysts, and specialist food and drink journalists.

Also, within the event, there will be a Food & Drink Wales Fine Food Showcase with food and drink broadcaster Nigel Barden (April 27th 10:15 am - 10:50 am). He will take to the stage to present ‘The Grocer Talking Shop’, where a range of Welsh producers will showcase their products, and visitors can sample exciting new tastes and flavours.

Exhibiting under the auspices of Cywain will be 12 ‘micro’ producers. Farm Shop & Deli will be their largest trade event to date for most of them.

Cywain works with food and drink producers across Wales, helping them grow and develop their business, with support in areas including marketing, brand development and finance.

Many of the micro producers are ‘graduates’ of Cywain’s ‘Scale-up Challenge’. Led by experts and mentors and held over six weekly sessions, the ‘Scale-Up Challenge’ covered a wealth of practical advice to help smaller companies scale-up their activities to develop their businesses.

One of the ‘Scale-Up Challenge’ companies exhibiting at the Farm Shop & Deli Show is Tregaron-based Welsh Homestead Smokery.

The Ceredigion company specialises in cold smoking products and creates some unusual flavours. Its products are stocked by a range of delis, shops and restaurants.

The smokery’s lamb bacon was featured in the recent final of the Great British Menu and also the winning dish in a culinary competition created by Cywain in partnership with Wales Young Farmers Clubs.

Welsh Homestead Smokery owner, Claire Jesse, said being part of the Scale-Up Challenge had been beneficial for the business.

She said, “The Challenge was really good; it helped us focus and prioritise things. It’s given us more confidence to tackle things too and be at events like Farm Shop and Deli, and I’d advise any company to take part.

“What was particularly valuable was to have first-hand access to the Challenge’s mentors. As a small company, you don’t always get a chance to speak with bigger company owners, but through the Scale-Up Challenge, we got the chance to network with them.

The Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths said: “It’s great to see more than 40 food businesses heading to these two major trade events. It will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the very best of Welsh food and drink to potential new buyers and I’m pleased the Welsh Government is supporting their presence at the shows. I wish them every success.”

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