The latest outputs from Project HELIX, a pan-Wales strategic initiative which provides food and drink companies with technical and commercial support, show it has had an impact of over £161 million since it launched in 2016.
The Welsh Government and EU-funded project is delivered by Food Innovation Wales, a partnership of three food centres based in north, mid/west and south Wales. Eligible companies have access to a range of expertise to help them grow and succeed through developing innovative new products, increasing their efficiency and adopting a strategic approach to business.
To date Project HELIX has had a hugely positive effect on the Welsh food and drink industry including:
- £161 million impact
- 428 jobs created and a further 1749 safeguarded
- 257 business start-ups supported
- 474 businesses assisted
- 660 new markets accessed, and
- 1010 new products developed
Over the last twelve months, Project HELIX has helped the Welsh food and drink industry navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing a range of support including mentoring companies through remote food safety audits and helping them capitalise on new consumer trends such as the growth of online retail. Furthermore, Food Innovation Wales launched support hotlines and a COVID-19 toolkit featuring a range of resources to help manufacturers protect their workforce and business during the pandemic.
Commenting on the update, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“This latest set of figures from Project HELIX shows the positive effect it continues to have on our vibrant Welsh food and drink industry.
“With its impact of over £161 million, Project HELIX remains at the forefront of the continued growth of the food and drink manufacturing industry in Wales, and its support has directly resulted in the creation and safeguarding of thousands of jobs.
“Throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Project HELIX has helped companies adapt and innovate. I encourage Welsh manufacturers to explore the support opportunities which are available to them through Project HELIX.”
Companies who have received support from Project HELIX during the COVID-19 pandemic include Lewis Pies who were assisted remotely through the process of renewing their BRCGS food safety certification.
Emma Burgess from the company said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very tough time for the business, losing a massive amount of our trade overnight along with a reduction in staff numbers and expertise. Throughout this period, the support supplied by Food Innovation Wales has been invaluable. It has been a time full of uncertainty and pressure and knowing that the skills and knowledge are there to support us has been amazing.”
Louise Waring, owner of Y Gegin Maldod, an online confectioner which was supported to open during the COVID-19 pandemic, added:
“Without the support from Food Innovation Wales I can honestly say I would not be running the business now. Their support has been priceless to me, as I now have an income coming in at a time when I would otherwise have nothing. I’ve baked at home practically all my life but doing it on a mass scale for public consumption is a totally different ballgame – there’s so much to consider technically and from a food safety point – it’s very daunting. But with the knowledge they’ve given me, I feel so much more confident.”
Professor David Lloyd, on behalf of Food Innovation Wales, expressed his pleasure at the latest figures,
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team of industry experts have provided comprehensive pan-Wales support for food and drink businesses of all shapes and sizes. Food and drink is a priority sector for the Welsh economy and we will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to help build a growing, innovative and sustainable industry over the coming years.”
For further information about Project HELIX funded support, visit https://foodinnovation.wales/funded-support/