Welsh food and drink producers have received first-hand expert knowledge on how to pivot and navigate their enterprises through the COVID-19 crisis.
Attendees at the ‘TUCK IN – Marketing in a Crisis’ webinars, were told that greater emphasis on marketing – and the ability to adapt to change – are key to the future success of food and drink businesses.
The TUCK IN masterclasses were organised by the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board and the Fine Food Cluster and attracted more than 250 attendees from Wales’ food and drink industry.
The sessions offered producers from across Wales the opportunity to receive insights on marketing from a range of industry experts and hear how COVID-19 has impacted on their businesses and brands.
The speakers shared the lessons they had learned from operating in a crisis – good and bad. How they had pivoted their operations and routes to market, and what changes they had made to navigate their way through this extraordinary time.
Master of Ceremonies was Jim Cregan, founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.
He said, “What a pleasure it was to be asked to host the online TUCK IN series. The organisers were so helpful in making the events seamless and the speakers gave such great insight into their own businesses and how they’ve been marketing in the current crisis.
“It was great to know all the delegates were present throughout both events, giving us the feeling that the quality of the content was on point.”
Keynote speakers over the two sessions included Cathy Capelin of Kantar Worldpanel, Scott James founder and director of Coaltown Coffee, and Pip Murray, founder of Pip & Nut.
They were joined by Sophie Higgins, head of marketing for HIPPEAS Snacks, Abergavenny Fine Foods commercial director, Bryson Craske, and Jesse Wilson co-founder of craft brewery, Jubel.
During the sessions, live polls were taken with attendees registering their responses to questions about marketing habits and business changes they have made due to the pandemic.
An overwhelming 94 per cent indicated that, compared with their pre-COVID-19 operations, the importance of marketing had changed.
Some 66 per cent said they were making changes to their NPD (new product development) activities to meet new opportunities as a result of COVID-19. While 46 per cent said TUCK IN had inspired them to make more investment in marketing.
Paul Withington, Director of Conwy-based CK Food and Drinks Ltd, said TUCK IN had been useful for planning, and “it was great to join in and be part of it.”
He continued, “For a small business like ours, it’s great to get the energy and positive feedback from other businesses that are adapting during lockdown. Especially as we don’t get out much at the moment!”
The Fine Food Cluster is a business-led development programme supported by the Welsh Government and facilitated by Menter a Busnes’ Cywain project.
Originally planned as a ‘physical’ event, when COVID-19 restrictions were introduced, TUCK IN was swiftly adapted and taken online.
Menter a Busnes Chief Executive Alun Jones said, “This was an inspiring event, which highlighted the importance of having a positive outlook during challenging times.
“The speakers were passionate about their businesses, which in turn gave rise to new ideas and solutions to help them overcome the difficulties posed by COVID-19.
I’m sure their enthusiasm will inspire the attendees to take action within their businesses.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said, “TUCK IN has given Welsh Food and Drink businesses the opportunity to hear first-hand about how their contemporaries have dealt with challenging situations.
“Hopefully they have come away with renewed confidence in the future and the knowledge that they are not alone during these turbulent times. They know too that there is expert knowledge readily available to help them take their enterprises forward.”