A new drinks cluster is being developed for Wales, joining the existing seafood, Nutriwales and fine food clusters. The initiative is due to be launched at the Food & Drink Wales Blas Cymru/Taste Wales event on 23 March by Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs.
Lesley Griffiths says:
“Our existing clusters have proved to be a successful way to create a network across various food and drink sub sectors to improve best practice, share ideas and develop businesses together. With the launch of the drinks cluster, I look forward to seeing the drinks industry in Wales continue to thrive and grow in the future.”
Andy Richardson, chair of the Wales Food and Drink Industry Board, says:
“The drinks sector in Wales is hugely diverse with dozens of businesses great and small producing all manner of alcoholic and soft drink beverages. This new cluster is a great platform for cross-sector communication and is also set to benefit every producer individually as well as to push the whole industry forward.”
Wales is well known for its beer, wine, perry, cider and spirits brands produced by a diverse range of companies. These span high profile award winning brands to small artisan producers. Mineral water alone is worth £15m.
One of the biggest producers is Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company based in Knighton, Powys which saw revenue growing to £33.8m for the year ending in 31 May 2016, compared to £29m the previous year. It is currently investing in plant and machinery, plus a further bottle blowing and filling line being installed alongside construction of a new warehouse, all of which will almost double production capabilities. Radnor Hills is the official water supplier to the 2017 Senior Open Championship taking place between 27-30 July at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.
Radnor Hills also plan to extend their involvement in premium fruit based low sugar drinks by producing more drinks made from British sourced ingredients. It already produces Radnor Fruits which is mainly focused on the school catering market.
The scale of the growth of the Welsh drinks sector has been noticeable in the explosion in numbers of craft breweries over the past few years. The Co-op recently announced plans to stock an additional 23 ales within 80 of its Welsh outlets using brewers such as Evan Evans Brewery Llandeilo, Felinfoel Brewery in Llanelli, Monty’s Brewery in Montgomery, Newport based Tiny Rebel and Boss Brewing in Llansamlet.