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Blas Cymru Taste Wales

£185m boost to the Welsh food and drink industry from Project HELIX

Hwb o £185miliwn i ddiwydiant bwyd a diod Cymru gan Brosiect HELIX

A Welsh Government and EU-funded project has delivered a significant boost to the food and drink industry in Wales, helping it develop hundreds of new products and create new jobs.

The news comes on the second day of the return of Wales’ major food and drink event, BlasCymru/TasteWales, which is taking place in Newport.

Project HELIX, which began in 2016, is a pan-Wales initiative delivered by Food Innovation Wales, a partnership of three food centres based in Anglesey, Ceredigion and Cardiff.

It supports Welsh companies to develop innovative products from concept, design, development and manufacture, through to the consumer’s shopping basket, helping businesses grow and thrive.

Latest figures show the project has had an economic impact of £185.6 million to food and drink businesses in Wales, helped create 447 jobs and protected a further 2,306.

More than 380 businesses and 943 individuals throughout Wales have been supported, of which 228 are new business start-ups. It has seen the development of 1,240 new products and helped producers access 778 new markets.

Supporting the food and drink industry through what has been an incredibly challenging year for the sector, Food Innovation Wales has been key in upskilling Wales’s workforce, supported the development of plant-based and healthier new products, and seen companies on a more sustainable footing by reducing waste, improving efficiency and developing new products.

Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, visited the Food Technology Centre in Llangefni during the summer to hear more about project HELIX. The facility helps companies manufacture products on a pilot scale to secure sales from retailers before investing in equipment. It also benefits from a sensory analysis suite and a fully equipped laboratory.

The Minister said: “The success of Project HELIX shows the importance of collaboration between academia, industry experts, government and producers to boost innovation, create jobs, build skills and launch new businesses.

“As we recover from the pandemic and face the pressing challenges of a changing climate, the ability to innovate and seize new opportunities will be more important than ever to our Welsh food and drink businesses. 

“I encourage producers and manufacturers across Wales to explore what support is available through Project HELIX and how its world-class expertise and advanced technical facilities can benefit their businesses”.

One business to benefit from Project HELIX is Authentic Curries and World Foods in Aberdare. The business produces a variety of ready-made meals using home style cooking methods for retail, restaurants, pubs, local authorities and major supermarket chain cafes.

Through the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre in Cardiff, they have received technical support in areas such as internal auditing against BRCGS Food Safety standards and and basic food safety. As a result of the company maintaining their BRCGS Food Safety certification they have been able to secure two additional customers, launch 15 new products and retain sales of over half a million pounds.

Paul Trotman, managing director of Authentic Curries said: “The support we've received from ZERO2FIVE has benefited us no end. It's been invaluable to have expertise from outside, coming in and auditing us in preparation for BRCGS. All of the involvement we have had with Cardiff Met University has been amazing and it helps things run a lot more smoothly.”

Prof. David Lloyd, on behalf of Food Innovation Wales, said: “Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have raised important questions over food security and skills availability. An increasing awareness of the climate crisis our planet is facing and the strain of diet-related disease on our communities has also made us take greater notice of the food we eat and where it comes from.

“Whilst these questions pose fundamental challenges for Welsh food and drink manufacturing, they can also provide opportunities for Wales to be at the forefront of positive change. We can lead the way with sustainability, skill-development, a focus on local produce and the promotion of healthier diets.

“This is where Food Innovation Wales is playing a key role. With our range of pan-Wales technical, operational and commercial expertise, we can support Welsh food and drink manufacturers to innovate and be more resilient to the challenges ahead of us,” he said.



Notes to editors

  • Food Innovation Wales is based at three food centres across Wales - Food Centre Wales at Ceredigion County Council, Food Technology Centre based in Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Anglesey and ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The team of internationally-recognised industry experts helps food and drink companies grow, innovate, compete and reach new markets. From new start-ups to established companies, Food Innovation Wales offers funded technical and commercial support.


Other examples of support provided in 2021 through Project HELIX include:

North Wales - Llaeth Medra Milk - Food Technology Centre

Anglesey sheep farmer, Huw Jones, recently established his new sheep milk drinks company Llaeth Medra Milk with the help of the Food Technology Centre.

With support from Project HELIX, Llaeth Medra Milk has been able to develop an idea into a product for consumers.

Huw Jones, owner and producer of Llaeth Medra Milk said:

“From beginning to the end, the help I have received from the Food Technology Centre has been invaluable. They have helped me every step of the way and without them I would never have been able to launch the sheep milk drinks.

“Using the expertise of the Food Technology Centre and being able to hire the equipment at the dairy on site in Llangefni has been life changing. If it wasn’t for their help and practical support Llaeth Medra Milk would not be here today.”



Mid & West Wales - Milk Vending Diversification - Food Centre Wales

With consumers searching for more environmentally friendly, ethical and local produce, milk vending machines are the latest trend to sweep across Welsh farms.

Food Centre Wales has supported more than 20 farms with their new milk vending business ventures and demand for support has been so high that they have even introduced webinars for milk vending businesses covering topics like food safety, sourcing equipment and HACCP plans.

The team at Morfa Milk, Fishguard commented:

“The team at Food Centre Wales were invaluable when we were starting up Morfa Milk. They worked with us on our HACCP until we got it just right and they guided us through microbiological testing. We basically couldn’t have started our business without their help and support. They are so knowledgeable in their field and they are always available to help.”

The team behind Llaeth Jenkins, Aberystwyth said:

“Without the support from Food Centre Wales, the process of establishing the enterprise would have been much more difficult, in fact, we may have been too daunted to even start. We know of many other enterprises similar to ours in other areas of the UK who are in awe of the support businesses like ours receive. The support has meant that we have been able to generate an additional source income for our family farm and have generated two new jobs.” 

Project HELIX is supported through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union.