Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has insisted Wales’ food and drink industry must continue to prosper as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
The latest industry figures reveal a record-breaking turnover of £7.473 billion in 2019, surpassing the target set in 2014 to achieve 30% growth and reach £7billion of sales by 2020.
During a visit to ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Minister outlined her hopes for the future of the Welsh food and drink sector post-Brexit.
“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 to them 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 23,000 people who work in Wales’ food and drink sector and the 217,000 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.”
Chair of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, which is responsible for growing, promoting and enhancing the reputation of the Welsh food and drink industry, Andy Richardson, added: “The stunning growth in the Welsh Food & Drink sector is the result of 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”.