A new chapter has begun for award-winning Welsh salami producer, Cwm Farm Charcuterie Products with the opening of its new ‘Salami HQ’.
Founded a decade ago by former school administrator Ruth Davies and her carpenter husband Andrew, Cwm Farm’s innovative range of salami and dried cured meat grace the tables of some of the finest restaurants as well as satiate thousands of hungry Welsh rugby fans.
Having outgrown its first production unit in Pontardawe, Ruth and Andrew had been searching for suitable premises – and found the ideal place “just ten minutes up the road” at Ystradgynlais Workshops in Powys.
The move was made possible with grant assistance from the Welsh Government Rural Business Investment Scheme, and Cwm Farm’s new ‘Salami HQ’ will be officially opened on March 2nd by former Wales rugby international, Rupert Moon.
At 4,000sq ft the unit is four times as big as Cwm Farm’s first premises, and the couple has been working around the clock to turn the ‘blank canvas’ into their ideal production base.
Design and certification advice from the Food Centre Wales at Horeb throughout the build has ensured that the new HQ has the facilities needed to fulfil the requirements of the most respected food industry standards such as SALSA.
Says Ruth, “Previously, lack of space was limiting production and storage was a big issue for us, but here we have all the space we could want. I have a little black book of ideas, but until now, I’ve not been able to make them. This grant has enabled us to not only fulfil our orders but move forward with product development.
“We can now expand production, take on staff, and develop even more products – which I have been dying to try for ages!”
The new HQ includes a laboratory, where Ruth can carry out the necessary water and PH testing, as well as a bigger drying chamber that is lined with blocks of pink Himalayan salt.
“We have two ranges of products – pub snacking and fine dining, which are aimed at different customers. Now we have the room to have more specialist machinery which will enable us to do different products such as chorizo nuggets which are fabulous for tapas bars.”
In addition to new equipment, the décor of the premises has a distinct and unique look. Working with two art students - Hannah Moulder and Adam Wenzy - from Carmarthen School of Art, Ruth and Andrew have created an 18 ft by 12 ft mural depicting a butcher’s shop.
The business’ expansion also means recruiting their first permanent staff, with three jobs created in production and administration.
Says Ruth, “It is fantastic to be able to take on staff, ideally from the local area. Charcuterie is a different world to butchery, so we are looking forward to training the right person.”
Cwm Farm is part of the Fine Foods Cluster programme; a business-led development programme supported by the Welsh Government and facilitated by Cywain. Cywain is dedicated to developing new and existing micro-businesses and SMEs in the Welsh food and drink sector.
Drawn from across Wales, the Fine Foods Cluster members have been brought together by the programme and benefit by sharing their experiences and knowledge.
“Being part of the Cluster has been of huge benefit to us,” says Ruth. “Not only have we had the opportunity to attend leading food and drink events such as Anuga in Germany, but you make friends and business contacts from across the industry.
It is through chatting with the guys from the drinks sector that developed our chorizo and salami chips. The Cluster gives you insight into another world.”
In turn, Cwm Farm has been introducing products from other parts of Wales to its rugby match-day kiosks at Parc y Scarlets.
Devoted Scarlets supporters, Ruth and Andrew have long been feeding hungry rugby fans, and regularly include products from around Wales as specials on the menu.
The list of ‘Ruth’s Artisan Favourites’ includes Wrexham Lager, Welsh Brew Tea, Henllan Bakery Welshcakes, and drinks from Purple Moose and Monty’s Brewery.
Says Ffion Jones, Development Manager Fine Food (South) – Cywain, “Ruth is a collaborative, active and engaging member of the Fine Food Cluster and is a regular stalwart at our food shows, business masterclasses and our bi-annual cluster gatherings."
“One of our objectives as a cluster is to bring together a range of food and drink producers who have quality products and ambition to grow. Ruth epitomises this with her kiosks at Parc y Scarlets which not only showcase her delicious charcuterie but also products from other cluster members.
The opening of Salami HQ is an exciting time for Cwm Farm and we look forward to seeing the new products developed in the new bespoke premises.”
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said, “I am delighted that support from the Rural Business Investment Scheme has enabled Cwm Farm Charcuterie Products to expand its production base as well as create skilled jobs."
“The business is an excellent example of how skill and entrepreneurial spirit combined with business support is helping to open up new markets for Welsh food and drink products.”
With many food and farming awards and plaudits to its name, Cwm Farm has had customer enquiries from around the globe, and has shipped its salamis overseas to destinations including Hong Kong, Dubai, the Netherlands and Denmark.
While closer to home, the company’s growing client base includes top restaurants and bars, iconic retailers, and will soon be available to customers around London through charcuterie wholesaler Cannon & Cannon.
Cwm Farm’s range has also been served at Downing Street and the British Embassy in Finland. They are regular attendees at food festivals and events such as Borough Market in London.
Ever the innovators, Ruth and Andrew have collaborated with Welsh beekeepers, testing the shelf-life of salami dipped in beeswax, and Ruth has worked with world-renowned chef Grady Atkins on a cookery book.
It seems an age since the couple bought Cwm Farm at Rhydyfro intending to raise pigs to produce meat for their family and friends. This developed into a thriving mobile enterprise – the ‘Poacher’s Pantry’ - from which they sold their bacon and sausages from the side of the A4067.
Fact-finding trips to Denmark and Italy followed where Ruth became hooked on the world of charcuterie, and today – if possible - she is even more enthused.
Says Ruth, “By going around the world getting lots of inspiration, and we then take that further, we think outside the box. Dried cured products have been around for years and years, but we do everything with a Welsh twist.”
More information about Cywain is available at: www.menterabusnes.co.uk/cywain
Cywain is a project designed and developed by Menter a Busnes and received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.