Autumn is well and truly upon us. With the best summer in decades behind us, it’s now time to look forward to the Christmas season. In the South West, plenty has been going on involving the food industry. Not least the beginning of construction on the new South West food innovation centre. And elsewhere in Wales food is in the news.
Wilmott Dixon secured the £11.3 million construction contract from North Somerset Council to build the FoodWorksSW facility in Weston-super-Mare. This will provide specialist facilities and technical support and will create around 250 new jobs.
The facility is designed to provide a range of specialist facilities and technical support for food and drink manufacturers across the South West region. It will help new businesses to get started and established producers to expand. A private sector-led project advisory group is liaising with the council on the ins and outs of the food industry.
In other news, it appears that the South West is on schedule for a record breaking year of exports. Somerset exported £10.5bn worth of goods in the first half of 2018, up on the same period last year. A lot of the credit is down to the region’s food and drink sector with new businesses popping up constantly.
One of these is a new wine school for the South West. This has just been launched with the support of a trio of the region’s well known wine experts. The South West Wine School will offer WSET Level 1 and 2 courses at Kenton Park Estate in Devon from the beginning of next year. The venture aims to make learning about wine “fun and enjoyable for enthusiasts of all levels”.
Wales Food Fights Back
Wales has also been in the news recently, with an alarming statistic about the presence of fast food restaurants. It seems that in part of Wales, a staggering 73% of all restaurants are selling fast food. The culprit is Blaenau Gwent with 55 out of 75 outlets takeaway venues. According to a recent report, Wales has seen a rise of 48% in fast food outlets from 2010 to 2018. While in the UK average increase is 34%.
Based on figures from the Office of National Statistics, Wales has had 670 fast food outlets open in the past eight years. Neath Port Talbot saw its numbers more than double from 50 to 105. People are simply too busy to cook, says Professor Haboubi, chair of the Welsh Obesity Society adding, “it is not the businesses’ fault, we have a societal disease“. However, Wales is not taking this lightly, with many initiatives planned to address the issue including the opening of a new food academy.
Recipe for Success
Celebrity chef Bryn Williams launched a Wales food academy offering Coleg Cambria students the opportunity to work and train in his restaurants. Launched last week at Cambria’s Y Celstryn restaurant in Deeside, the Bryn Williams Academy is aiming to help plug the ever-increasing skills gap in catering and hospitality.
“There are so many more places to eat, so many more kitchens and restaurants… the talent pool has spread so there is a very thin layer now and that needs addressing. It’s so important we inspire the children of today to become chefs in the future because the industry has grown beyond all comprehension,” he explains.
AC Services October News
Here at AC Services we’re investigating the advantages of the Rational connected cooking function. Launched last year this is an intelligent cloud-based networked solution that enables the setting of remote cooking functions and maintenance monitoring. We’ll let those in the SW and Wales food businesses know more in 2019.