Food innovation project set to strengthen Welsh jobs

A new £21 million programme to strengthen Wales’ food and drink sector is expected to safeguard thousands of jobs and deliver over £100m for the Welsh economy.

Welsh Government’s Project Helix provides funding support for research into global food production, trends and waste to help small to medium sized food manufacturers across Wales to increase production and reduce waste.

The project is funded through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) and is expected to create 370 new jobs, primarily in rural Wales and the Valleys, while safeguarding a further 2,000 over the next five years.

The research will take into consideration new challenges and opportunities facing the industry as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The findings will provide Welsh producers with the best opportunity for growth and economic impact.

The project was launched at Welsh government’s TasteWales event today (23 March) where over 100 Welsh producers showcased the very best of the Welsh food and drink industry to over 150 UK and international buyers.

Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs, says, “We’ve set ambitious targets for the food and drink industry to achieve growth of 30% by 2020 and I am pleased to say we are firmly on course to meet that target. Project Helix is the next step on the journey to ensure our food and drink industry is globally reorganised for quality, creativity and skills.”

Developed by Food Innovation Wales (FIW), which is a partnership of the three food centres in Wales, Project Helix will support food manufacturers over the next five years in:

  • Innovation – fast tracking new innovative products and food company start ups
  • Efficiency – assisting businesses to reduce waste during food processing thereby securing costs savings and waste reduction
  • Strategy – seeking to ensure a world class industry through advanced skills in key areas, such as food technology.

Professor David Lloyd from Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Zero2Five food industry centre, one of the FIW partners, adds, “We want the industry to be innovative right across the board, from improving nutritional standards and new product development in response to health and well-being challenges to retail and market trends. Our aim is to put Wales on the global food and drink map, and to do that, Helix will provide high levels of support such as identifying business people who want to invest or advising food manufacturers on technical standards and regulations.”

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