IN the week Wales and the UK leaves the EU, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has insisted Wales’ thriving food and drinks industry must continue to prosper, following a record year of success.
The latest industry figures reveal a record-breaking turnover of £7.473 billion in 2019, surpassing the ambitious target set in 2014 to achieve 30% growth and reach £7billion of sales by 2020. In 2018, 73% of all Welsh food & drink exports went to the European Union.
During a visit to ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University the Minister toasted the success and spoke of her hopes for the future of the sector in a post-EU world.
Lesley Griffiths said:
“In 2014 we announced a simple and bold target – to raise the industry’s sales value by 30% to £7 billion by 2020. I am absolutely delighted we have now more than achieved this, the latest data showing the sector has a value of £7.473 billion.
“Wales’ food and drink industry has never been in ruder health and it has been fantastic to share the success with some of our wonderful, innovative producers here today. But with only a matter of days until we leave the EU we can’t ignore the fact Brexit will be a big disruptor and have a major impact on many of our fantastic businesses”.
“I am in regular contact with Ministerial counterparts in the UK Government and my message is clear. This sector is a real success story which we need to continue to promote and develop; it should not be overlooked or sold down the river.
“During trade negotiations and discussions on our future relationship with the EU the UK Government must consider the impact on the 24,000 people who work in Wales’ food and drink manufacturing sector and the 229,000 employed in the wider supply chain.
“We have so much to celebrate here in Wales. I have every confidence, if we continue to support our food and drink industry and with the right economic conditions in place, our growing reputation as a food and drink nation will only get stronger.”
The Food and Drink Wales Industry Board is responsible for growing, promoting and enhancing the reputation of the Welsh food and drink industry. Its Chair, Andy Richardson added:
“The stunning growth in the Welsh Food & Drink sector is down to the drive and determination of the industry to succeed, effective collaboration between industry and the Welsh Government, allied with technical expertise and the dedication of the many thousands employed within the sector. While these superb figures show we are undoubtedly on the right path it is crucial we do not allow this success to be derailed and we must continue to take every opportunity to protect the quality and image of our produce”.