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Adapting to change Welsh food producers rise to the challenge of a ‘New World’

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It may not quite be ‘business as usual’ for small food and drink producers in Wales. Still, many are turning to alternative ways, and collaborating with fellow producers to maintain sales.


Supporting producers through these often difficult and rapid changes is Cywain – a programme designed and developed by Menter a Busnes that is dedicated to developing new and existing micro-businesses and SMEs in the Welsh food and drink sector.


Cywain’s Marketing and Events Team Leader, Alex James says: “The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have hit many food and drink producers particularly hard. But there are positive stories to be highlighted too.


“Through Cywain’s continued work with producers, we know how hard they are working to adapt their business plans and services to enable them to continue to provide customers with fantastic Welsh produce.


“For some it has meant changing the way they work, while others have come together to create new opportunities – and have embraced the spirit of ‘clustering’ which Cywain already fosters as the facilitator for the Fine Food Cluster Wales.


“So, we thought we’d share some of the stories about producers who have
successfully taken up the challenge of operating in this ‘new world’ we are living in. and encourage the public to shop local.”


Cywain’s drive to highlight ‘good news’ stories follows on from the launch of its online Producer Map (https://menterabusnes.cymru/cywain/en/our-producers/ ). The specially created map pinpoints a host of excellent food and drink producers from across Wales who can provide an online shop and delivery service. 


Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “It is heartening to hear how producers and small food and drink companies are adapting their businesses at this time – and I am sure there will be more uplifting and positive stories to come.

“By thinking outside of the box, and by working and clustering together, producers are keeping their enterprises going and continuing to providing customers with wonderful Welsh food and drink.”

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CLAM’S CAKES
Over the past 40 years, Clam’s Cakes has gone from a Crickhowell coffee shop enterprise to a purpose-built bakery supplying hotels, restaurants, cafes and retailers across the UK.


Therefore, when the hospitality sector was closed down, Clam’s lost virtually all its orders overnight. Left with freezers full of its award-winning, hand-made cakes, the company swiftly came up with an alternative plan.


Production may have been temporarily halted, but the Phillips family – who founded the business – have taken to the road to bring people a slice of cheer to people currently unable to leave their homes.


Clam’s are now delivering cakes and biscuits to customers living within a 10-mile radius of Crickhowell.


The cake selection changes weekly, with the list published on the company’s Facebook page. Orders are then placed and paid for by phone and delivered to the customer’s doorstep.


“It’s just been our family doing it, but people have been very grateful,” says
proprietor, Jane Phillips “we’ve had so many compliments. My son, Lewis, has been making bread so that we can offer customers loaves with their orders. We’ve got a warehouse of flour, so we’ve added flour, fresh eggs and butter to the selection. It’s helping our egg supplier too.”


Also, the family has donated personal protective equipment (PPE) normally used in their bakery to a local health centre. And they have been delivering cakes to hospitals and frontline workers. On a personal note, Jane has found the telephone contact with customers rewarding experience too.


“I’ve found some customers who are finding isolation challenging enjoy having a chat when they ring up with their order.


“We may not be making much of a profit at the moment, but we are making people happy.”
More information: www.clamscakes.co.uk

JACK AND AMELIE
Unable to launch their new children’s meal enterprise as planned, Sophie Brown and Abi Dymmock are instead concentrating on building a customer base around their native Cardiff.


The two friends came up with the idea of creating ‘grown-up food for kids’ after their own experiences of trying to juggle the demands of work and a young family. They named the company after their children – ‘Jack and Amelie’.


Says Sophie, “While on maternity leave, we had time to prepare new and varied meals for our children. But on returning to work, this became harder to fit in, and we found there wasn’t a lot of ready prepared food available to help with those busy
times.”


Their dishes are twists on family favourites “packed with veggies”. They offer variety and balance, with meat, vegetarian and vegan-friendly choices. The frozen meals include Rainbow Thai Curry with Lentils and Veggies, Caponata Stew with Herby Turkey Meatballs, Beef Casserole with Root Veggies.


However, the friends’ plans to unveil the Jack and Amelie range at a major UK food and drink trade event last month were scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Undeterred, and utilising the skills from their previous careers in project
management, they swiftly adapted to the situation – and are using their social media channels (@jackandamelie) to keep in touch with customers.


“We’d found a great manufacturer, and we were ramping up production, but we’ve had to change – fortunately in our previous jobs, we were used to pivoting ideas. So, for now, instead of our original plan of supplying retailers, we are selling direct to the public around Cardiff.


“We’re making contactless deliveries and establishing contact with parents. We’ve had great feedback, especially from parents who are now having to look after their children while also working from home.”
More information: www.jackandamelie.co.uk


TŶ TANGLWYST DAIRY
Once a familiar sight, doorstep milk deliveries are proving to be a vital service for many people who are self-isolating.


For south Wales dairy, Tŷ Tangwlyst, doorstep milk deliveries are also helping to keep open an essential outlet for the farm’s award-winning dairy produce.


The Lougher family has long been supplying milk from their 110-strong herd of Pedigree Holstein dairy cattle to customers’ doorsteps around a ten-mile radius of the farm in Pyle, near Bridgend.

Now, as their round gets bigger, it is even prompting the business to expand its workforce.


“With premises such as schools, offices closed, the commercial and wholesale side of our business has taken a downturn. However, our domestic deliveries have increased,” says dairy farmer Rhys Lougher, whose family have been farming at Tŷ Tanglwyst for several generations.


“Demand for doorstep deliveries has been such we’ve had to extend our rounds. As a result, we’ve created extra roles in the company, and when our commercial trade


does come back, we’ll be looking to take on additional staff.
“We’re a small family business with dedicated, hard-working employees. Luckily, we’ve been able to very quickly adapt to changes to our customer base and respond to people’s needs.”


The award-winning business, which produces butter and cream too, also supplies customers with eggs and fruit juice. But in these challenging times, some changes have had to be made to meet demand.


Says Rhys, “There has been a shortage of cardboard egg boxes, so we have had to use plastic, and we’re buying fruit juice in bulk. With more people baking at home there has been a surge in orders for butter – so that has been tight at times.” Orders are placed via Facebook and social media, and for many customers, Tŷ Tanglwyst’s deliveries are particularly welcome.


“People have said how grateful they are for the deliveries and that it is helping them while they have to stay at home. Many people have also said they can taste the difference with our milk, and that when this is all over they will keep ordering from
us.”
More information: www.tytanglwystdairy.com

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Conviction for an illegal waste operator in south west Wales

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW), in partnership with Dyfed-Powys Police, has successfully prosecuted a man for operating an illegal waste site in south west Wales.

CYMRAEG ISOD

James Anthony Gunter, aged 32, from Brynamman, admitted the offences in interview, and was charged with operating an illegal waste facility and disposing of waste at that facility in a manner likely to cause pollution to the environment and human health.

He was sentenced at Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday 31 July. Gunter received a 12 month community order with 200 hours unpaid work. He must pay costs in full of £6,709 and a victim surcharge of £85.

He’d been operating a household clearance and rubbish removal service  in the Ammanford, Neath, Port Talbot and Llanelli areas.

He was taking money from customers to take away their waste and was bringing it back to a site in Brynamman, Ammanford, to dispose of it illegally.

David Morgan, waste enforcement officer, Natural Resources Wales said:

“Illegal waste activities like this blight the countryside, have a detrimental impact on people’s lives with issues including smoke or noise, and impact on legitimate waste businesses.

“Gunter left more than enough evidence to lead us to him. Amongst the mostly burnt waste we discovered numerous documents with addresses on. We also found a sign from an old local business. Thankfully, we could trace these items back to their place of origin, and the producers of the waste were willing to give witness statements.”

The investigation began in June 2019 when the Waste Regulation Team received a number of reports of the illegal waste operation.

Large volumes of waste were regularly being tipped and burnt at a location, on the border of Brecon Beacons National Park.

NRW’s enforcement officer and an officer from Dyfed-Powys Police who was on secondment to NRW at the time, visited the site. From that visit and follow-up enquiries they found substantial amounts of evidence that led to this successful prosecution.

Chief Inspector Jolene Mann, of Dyfed-Powys Police said:

“We rely on our communities to share information with us to target and tackle crimes of this nature, which have a significant impact on local people and the environment.  We will continue to work with partner agencies to effectively deal with offenders and to keep our communities safe.”

David Morgan added:

 “Thanks to people reporting this iilegal waste operation to us, we were able to investigate and prosecute. But members of the public have another important role to play in preventing illegal waste operations.

“If they arrange for waste to be collected from their business or home, they should check that the business collecting it is registered as a carrier. Search the public register of all waste carriers, brokers and dealers on the NRW website.

“If they’re not registered, don’t let them take the waste away and report them immediately to NRW on our incident line 0300 065 3000.”

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Llwynhendy man sentenced to two years for handling stolen goods

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A man was caught with thousands of pounds worth of items taken from homes and sheds in Llwynhendy after accessing wifi on a stolen laptop.

Josh Palethorpe, of Heol Westfa, hid when Dyfed-Powys Police officers arrived at the house he was staying at, but was found surrounded by stolen goods including TVs, power tools, computer consoles and laptops.

The force had received reports of four shed break-ins and two creeper burglaries in the Llwynhendy area over two nights in March.

An investigation was immediately launched, and enquiries led officers to discover that a wifi spot had been accessed on one of the stolen laptops. The occupants of that address had no connection with the burglaries, and officers began looking at a neighbouring house – where 26-year-old Palethorpe had been staying.

DS Bromfield said: “We received a request to attend the address on a separate matter, and on entering the house officers found a large amount of property which was suspected to be stolen.

“Josh Palethorpe was located hiding in an upstairs bedroom and was arrested on suspicion of burglary. However, it transpired that the suspect had bought the goods – and given the low price he paid for them, he must have been aware that they were stolen.”

Palethorpe was charged with handling stolen goods, and was sentenced to two years in prison when he appeared at Swansea Crown Court.

DS Bromfield added: “What was crucial to this investigation was the ability to trace where the suspect was accessing the wifi from. The laptop he was using was fitted with a tracking device, which led us to the address Palethorpe was staying at, where he was arrested.

“I hope this sentence proves to him that it’s not worth being involved in the stolen goods chain, no matter how little he paid for the items.”

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Police seized spice worth £10,000 from car on drugs run

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Police officers seized £10,000 of the psychoactive substance spice after waiting near a motorway slipway for a car returning from a drugs run.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers arrested Jack Brennan on Saturday, June 28 after stopping a Volkswagen Polo just off the M4 at Hendy.

Officers from the Priority Policing Team were acting on intelligence that the occupants of the Volkswagen Polo – including 22-year-old Brennan – were travelling to and from Cardiff to collect drugs to sell in Carmarthenshire.

On being stopped, Brennan – who has now been jailed – claimed the half kilo supply of spice was for his own personal use.

Detective Inspector Wayne Bevan said: “Information was received that the car would be returning to Llanelli with controlled substances intended to be supplied to people in the area.

“Assistance was requested from Carmarthenshire Roads Policing Unit to stop the car as it left the M4 at Hendy, where it was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“As the occupants were detained, Brennan told one of the officers there was half a kilo of spice on the back seat, which was all for his own use.

“A package was found in the car, containing an amount of the drug inconsistent with personal use. Brennan was swiftly arrested on suspicion of possessing class B drugs with intent to supply.”

An Iceland carrier bag was found in a back footwell of the car, which was seized and found to contain a black back filled with a green substance.

This was identified as being 570g of class B drug spice. The street value of this quantity is estimated to be around £10,000.

Brennan, of Railway Place in Llanelli, was charged with possessing class B drugs with intent to supply, and admitted the offence at court.

He was remanded to appear at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on August 7, when he was jailed for 36 weeks.

DI Bevan said: “Spice is an extremely addictive and dangerous substance, and this operation has prevented a significant quantity of the drug from making its way to Llanelli.

“This is an excellent example of partnership working between departments to identify and stop the vehicle, and to prevent this drug from entering the supply chain.

“Our proactive teams will continue to act on all information received about the abuse of illegal substances, and will endeavour to bring those concerned in the supply of drugs to justice.”

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