Should there be more Welsh products in our supermarkets?


Rhian Waller

WE all enjoy the taste of Wales, but should there be more Welsh products in our supermarkets?

Feature writer Rhian Waller canvassed our readers’ thoughts and was left in no doubt that food grown, reared and produced in the Land of Song was plenty to sing about. Local shops have got the message, but not all the supermarkets...

Shoppers want more Welsh food on supermarket shelves.

According to a survey carried out by Atomik Research, inspired by the Royal Welsh Show, which is taking place this week in Builth Wells, 75 per cent of shoppers want more Welsh stock.

Out of the 500 Welsh people surveyed, about three quarters said they looked for Welsh lamb and beef when they shopped.

Half said they’d be willing to pay more to eat Welsh-grown produce and ensure it was stocked in supermarkets.

Many shoppers said Welsh produce was not well promoted or signposted.

Stephen James, NFU Cymru president, said: “We will be meeting all of the major retailers this week and we will be using these figures to drive home what Welsh customers have told us they want to see.

“We know shoppers are keen to back Welsh farmers, but we keep being told by the major supermarkets they are being driven by their customers.

“Well our message to them this week at the Royal Welsh Show is customers want to be able to find Welsh produce easily when they enter your supermarket.”

The responses were picked up from all over Wales. Do shoppers in Flintshire, Wrexham and over the border in Cheshire share the same view?

Donna Craven, 41 , of Wrexham, said:

“I’m all for supporting local farmers and businesses but sometimes reality, and a lack of funds, takes priority.

“Large local supermarkets have proven they’re all about profits. I’ve seen them clearing whole aisles to make way for Polish produce.

“You don’t see that for Welsh foods. It’s all about money.”

Mike Edwards, 70, of Llangollen, and former chair of Keep Llangollen Special, stressed the benefits of keeping it local.

He said: “Buy from your local independent butcher, baker, greengrocer and deli and get local produce and keep money recirculating in your local economy.

“Supermarkets only export profits out of the local economy to the south of England.”

Alwyn Humphreys, 67, of Rhos, is from a farming background.

He said: “There’s every reason why we should have a lot more Welsh produce on the shelves.

“Welsh agriculture has the potential to be superb. But the Welsh government has not the first clue how to develop it.

“Welsh produce need not be more expensive. Farmers are currently overburdened with unnecessary costs. 

“There is too much emphasis on farming’s amenity value and too little on food production.”

John Tomos, 68, of Mold, said: “Yes, there should be more Welsh food on the shelves but it has to be of quality.

“This would support the local economy and also drive the food tourism initiative.

“Look at the Mold Food and Drink festival – a good showcase for local producers with a footfall of up to 15,000 and yet we have difficulty getting local producers to attend in numbers. 

“The festival, according to Welsh Government research, brings £800,000 to the Flintshire economy every year and all that is done by a great volunteer workforce.”

Some people were cautious about the idea.

James Baker, 38, of Wrexham asked: “Would it not make more sense to have no local produce in supermarkets?

“This way, supermarkets can offer the same brands in every location, and local businesses selling local products do not cease trading.”

Steve Williams, 52, from Holywell, is currently living in New Zealand.

He said: “How come New Zealand farmers can do it better than the UK and send it half way around the world [for less]?”

But in general, responses of Leader readers were very positive, with many saying they already supported Welsh producers.

Pearl Pugh, 67, of Wrexham, said: “My choice would be Welsh grown or Welsh made products.”

Will Riding, 50, of Chester, said: “The more local and sustainable, the better.”

Carol Ellis, a Leader reader, contacted us on Facebook to say she has actually walked out of supermarkets when she couldn’t find Welsh produce.

She said: “Yes, I’ve been to Tesco Mold and at times there was no Welsh Lamb, so I go to local butcher instead.”

Laura Thomas, 26, of Buckley, said: “I now use the local butchers as they have won awards and it tastes so much better.

“I always thought using a butchers would be more expensive but it’s not the case.”

Julie Harris, 61, of Caerwys, said: “Definitely. It’s hard enough to find British-grown stuff, but more homegrown Welsh produce would be great. Bring it on.”

Marc Jones, 53, chairman of Caia Park Community Council, said: “Of course. Wales has got so many good food and drink producers. 

“A lot are fairly small but others, like the Village Bakery, Llaeth Y Llan and Tomlinsons, are large enough to supply the big supermarkets.

“People want to know where their food comes from more and more, and knowing it’s come from just up the road is a bonus.

“It helps the local economy too. It’s the least the big supermarkets can do. 

“At present, it’s just a tokenistic few cheeses and speciality goods – they could do an awful lot more.”

Carolyn Mercer, 27, of Chester, certainly agrees with the NFU.

She said: “Yes. I always go for Welsh produce if there’s the option.”

David Baden Salisbury, 39, of Wrexham, said: “Absolutely.

“Supermarkets in Wales should be stocking Welsh produce and ensure a good deal for Welsh suppliers if they are trading in Wales. They need to give back to the economy in return for a lot of trade they have taken away from small businesses.”

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