Bid to Develop Wales' Food Supply Chain

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A bid to maximise the economic impact of the food industry in Wales was launched yesterday by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones.

The Sustainable Supply Chains initiative is an 18-month pilot scheme in South-East Wales that aims to safeguard Welsh food and drinks businesses by helping them to develop links with other parts of the industry from farmers to retailers.

The ultimate aim is to expand the scheme across Wales to create a more resilient food economy.

Hours later, the Rural Affairs sub-committee of the National Assembly delivered the recommendations of a study into the food industry that included a call for a Wales Food Champion to oversee the food promotion agenda and ensure links to key sectors like health, education and the environment.

The nine recommendations also called for new Welsh produce promotional organisations along the lines of the red meat agency Hybu Cig Cymru.

Launching the pilot project yesterday, the minister said it would help food and drink companies in the South Wales area play their part in developing supply chains that are much more collaborative and sustainable.

"This will help to ensure the long term business survival of food and drink companies across South Wales and I am sure could be a real help to project participants during this economically challenging time," she said.

"However, food and drink companies will not be the only beneficiaries. The project will also work to secure a more resilient food economy for Wales and will help to address wider concerns around climate change and food security."

David Lloyd, director of the Food Industry Centre and chair of the South East Wales Agri-food partnership, said primary producers had to operate amid highly aggressive competition. …