AVANA CLOSURE: Welsh Government ‘failed’ food industry
Updated 11:36am Wednesday 9th April 2014 in Gwent news
A TRADE group says the Welsh Government has failed to support the food industry in Wales.
The statement from the Federation of Small Businesses Wales came after the Argus reported on Monday that Rogerstone’s Avana Bakeries will close this summer after losing a multi-million pound contract with Marks and Spencer.
The company, owned by 2 Sisters Food Group, relied on the contract for 85 per cent of its work, producing event cakes and cold desserts.
Iestyn Davies, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses Wales, said: “One key question remains unaddressed by local politicians and that is, ‘What is the Welsh Government doing to support our food industry?’
“Avana Bakeries is just one of many food producers we once had and companies such as 2 Sisters and the other remaining food producers are crucial to the survival of many local communities.
“The Welsh Government has failed to support this key industry and the absence of specific support or enterprise initiative for food manufacturing is a glaring oversight.
“The closure of yet another food producer demonstrates the weaknesses in the Welsh Government’s current strategy to support business and grow the foundational economy.
“There is a real danger that any proposed strategy will be too little too late and cold comfort to the 640 employees likely to lose their jobs before the summer.”
But the Welsh Government described the claims as “wholly inaccurate”.
A spokesman said: “We recognise the importance of the Welsh food industry to our economy and communities and are working hard to ensure the success of Welsh food businesses. We are making significant progress in this area and achieved six per cent growth in food and drink sales last year and a combined turnover for agriculture, fishing and food manufacture of over £5.2 billion.
“The Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, has set out his proposals to support the Welsh food and drinks industry in the new draft Action Plan and has made a commitment to deliver a 30 per cent increase in turnover by 2020.
“A central part of this plan is building on what is already an efficient system of business support for our food and drinks industry that is based on specific producer needs and supporting their development and business growth.”
He added: “Although Monday’s announcement is very disappointing and particularly worrying for staff and their families, the Welsh Government is continuing to work with 2 Sisters Food Group to explore all options to safeguard employment at this site. Talks are ongoing between the owners and Welsh Government to investigate new business and employment opportunities in the area.”
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