JUST one day before Wales and the UK leaves the EU, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, is confident North Wales’ growing drinks industry will continue to sparkle.

The latest industry figures reveal a record turnover figure of £7.473 billion for Wales’ food and drink sector 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.

Wales’ drinks market made a significant contribution to that figure with a turnover of £902 million in the last year – representing a growth of 35% in the sector since 2014.

The industry is made up of a diverse range of producers of varying scale and ambitions, ranging from high profile award winning brands to small-scale artisan producers selling in local pubs and direct to consumers at food festivals and other events.

During a visit to Aber Falls Whisky distillery, Lesley Griffiths raised a glass to the success of North Wales drinks companies and spoke of her hopes for the future of the sector in a post-EU world.

Lesley Griffiths said:

“North Wales drink companies have gone from strength to strength in recent years with Wrexham Lager, Purple Moose and Aber Falls, just three that have achieved success in the UK and abroad.”

“Aber Falls is a thriving company that uses localised supply chains to create their quality products whiskies and gins. As a relatively recent new company, it is encouraging to see how they have established exports to contribute to the growth of their business.

“But with only a day left until we leave the EU we can’t ignore the fact Brexit is going to have a major impact on our businesses.

“I have been very clear with the UK Government about how we believe trade negotiations should progress. It’s really important we can continue to trade with the EU and don’t give our competitors an extra advantage.

“The Welsh brand is something worth celebrating and with the right conditions in place, I see no reason why our food and drinks sector cannot continue to prosper.”

James Wright, Managing Director of Aber Falls Distillery added:

“North Wales has really developed as a hub for food and drink – the natural landscape that the region provides ensures resources are already in place to use sustainably sourced local ingredients.

“With provenance and sustainability high on the agenda for consumers and producers alike, Aber Falls has, since its inception, been making strong headway with the Welsh Government in establishing a new ‘field-to-field’ philosophy; in a first for North Wales this has involved working with the National Farmers Union Cymru and Bangor University to reap the rewards of the land around us.

“The Welsh Government’s focus on food and drink is integral to the long term success of the distillery, so we are delighted to host the Environment Minister, Lesley Griffiths at the distillery. We are really looking forward to seeing what the next six years will bring when the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board publish its proposals to advance the food and drink sector in the region for the period 2020-2026.”

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