Ensuring north Wales food and drink producers can play a central role in post pandemic economic recovery was one of the key messages at a virtual conference held this week.
The online event organised by Môn Larder, brought producers, buyers and experts together from across the food sector in the region. The focus was very much on promoting local produce to large-scale public sector catering services as part of the recovery in the wake of Covid19.
A follow-on to the Public Procurement Expo held back in February, this week’s conference heard from Welsh Government about work to support SMEs to access public sector procurement. Delegates also heard from experts on consumer buying trends, learnt about current initiatives as well as examples of recent success stories.
Speaking before the event, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said:
“We are keen to work with our partners, including Môn Larder, on initiatives to ensure smaller regional food and drink producers and suppliers can access public sector markets. It is a huge opportunity with significant potential and we believe that this can be integral to any post Covid recovery by creating jobs, promoting innovation as well as reinforcing food security.
“With a shift in people’s buying trends and a greater focus on ‘buy local’, we need to ensure this principle is also applied to large public sector organisations as they source food and drink supplies.”
Martin Jardine, Director of Agri Food at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, is chair of Môn Larder, he explained:
“With sustainability high on the agenda and more pressure than ever on food supply chains it makes sense that we do everything we can to shorten those supply chains – placing a stronger focus on the excellent produce that we have here on our doorstep. At Môn Larder we are working to support and enable suppliers to do this and to facilitate the links between buyers, suppliers and other key partners – the conference this week let us reach out to all those stakeholders once again.
“Collaboration is critical in the way we operate and will become an even more important theme as we face new economic challenges over the coming year.”
Delegates heard about one such collaboration which sprang up as a result of the difficulties faced by many communities during lockdown. The ‘Neges’ project was a partnership between Menter Môn and Dylan’s Restaurant, it supplied food parcels and packages to vulnerable people and to front line NHS staff in Gwynedd and Anglesey.
Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director of Menter Môn, explained:
“Neges saw food producers, supply companies as well as two local authorities work together to meet a need that arose as a result of pandemic restrictions. It shows the positive results which can be achieved through collaboration, with positive lessons we can take forward to future projects.”
The event closed with an appeal to those who joined the online session to continue the conversation and to reinforce the day’s key messages – ‘buy local’ and the importance of collaboration.