SUPPORT FOR THE WELSH DRINKS INDUSTRY

Aberavon AM, David Rees, has expressed his support of the recent boost given to the Welsh Drinks Industry by the Welsh Government. The first drinks industry summit was held in Aberystwyth, to establish the ambitions and growth potential from this sector, and how Government can further support the Welsh drinks industry.

David Rees AM said:
“Our drinks industry is not only an important part of our economy, but is also an important part of our heritage. Many small breweries such as Neath Ales in Baglan and local pubs are at the hearts of our communities and keep centuries old traditions alive. Just speaking to the people who run Neath Ales you can feel the passion they have for their product. 375 pubs closed in Wales between 2007 and 2010, which is a tragic loss for Wales. Whilst there are no easy answers, this is a great starting point.”

Alun Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes, hosted the first drinks industry summit in Aberystwyth, to establish the ambitions and growth potential from this sector, and how Government can further support the Welsh drinks industry. Further summits will be held in the future to ensure that the policies and approach of the Welsh Government continue to reflect the needs of the industry. As a direct result of that summit, a trade development initiative has been developed which will provide the Welsh Drinks Sector with specific expertise such as market intelligence, marketing and branding, and exports amongst others.

Alun Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes said:
‘We have made clear our commitment to supporting the industry by helping to develop, promote and market Welsh food and drink, strengthening supply chain linkages where appropriate, and to diversifying and strengthening the rural economy by the promotion of new and innovative products and processing and the pursuit of new markets.’

Alun Davies AM has committed to publishing a plan of action in January 2012 which will provide full details of this initiative.

Jay Thomas of Neath Ales said:
‘As a relative newcomer to the sector, Neath Ales welcomes the Welsh Assembly Government trade development proposal. Many pubs in the area have expressed strong interest in sourcing local beers but the control of the large pub companies is in practice no different from the old brewery pub-tie system. The number of pub closures over the past few years in the Neath Port Talbot area has been alarming and once these important community resources are lost they will never be replaced. The Welsh Assembly Government needs to have a mandate to free up this wholly anti-competitive system which acts as an oligopoly to restrict small business growth and impedes choice and competition.’