The Welsh Government has announced a future strategic vision for the food and drink industry as it sets its sights, over the coming years, to be a world leader in sustainability.
Looking at areas such as growth and productivity, environmental impact, fair work and raising standards throughout, by working together it is hoped that Government and industry can create one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world.
Lesley Griffiths, minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, said: “The last year has been one of extreme disruption for the industry here in Wales, from Brexit through to Covid-19. There will be many more difficult days ahead, however we must plan for a future that ensures food and drink businesses flourish over the coming years, both financially but also ethically.
“To coin a well-used phrase, we appreciate that striving towards sustainable development – as outlined in our world leading Well-being of Future Generations Act – is a ‘process and not an event’.
“We are certainly not claiming to have reached the final destination, but we fully understand as a Government, we have our role to play in ensuring that sustainability is seen as a crucial element of the whole food and drink supply chain, from field and sea all the way through to the fork.”
“Looking after our environment, people and livelihoods, while securing future prosperity and growth are the values that shape our policies and laws. This is especially the case with a growing body of research highlighting increasing consumer demand for stronger sustainability credentials.”
Plans are in progress to put in place key performance indicators later this year, including ensuring an upward trajectory of food accreditation and businesses signed-up to payment of the Welsh Living Wage.
Global research has found that in key markets sustainability is important to 88% of consumers with 40% willing to pay more for sustainable food and drink. Research also finds Wales is well placed to capitalise on this increasing trend with a strong international reputation for producing high quality, tasty and natural products – highlighting that 84% of respondents believe that food and drink from Wales was synonymous with being “natural”.
Along with extensive research being carried out on consumer and retailer sentiment and buying habits the Welsh Government has also created practical support for businesses interested in driving innovation and efficiency through sustainable practices.
Food Innovation Wales, the industry’s food centre support network provides for a host of companies ‘one to one’ support in the area, while central to future plans will be a recently developed Sustainability Cluster of like-minded businesses.
The organisation states that it is already inundated with interest from food and drink businesses keen to collaborate, share best practice, as well as pull the wider industry upwards when needed to set their sights high in reaching the vision.