Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Simon Thomas has called on the Welsh Government to take the threat to Welsh food branding by Brexit seriously.
The Assembly Member has tabled a motion calling on the Labour led administration to ensure that food from Wales is recognised as Welsh food as we leave the EU.
In the statement of opinion Mid and West AM Simon Thomas has also congratulated Carwyn Adams and his family from Caws Cenarth on obtaining European Protected Food Name (PFN) status for traditional Welsh Caerphilly cheese.
Wales has 15 food and drink products that have achieved PFN status.
Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas said:
“Every penny we spend on food from Wales benefits our own farmers and food producers. It boosts the local economy, is better for the environment in terms of food miles, yet we seem to whisper about our food rather than trumpet it. If you think today’s experiences of food in Wales is a bit of a sorry state just wait until the Brexit manure flies off the muck spreader.
“The main route to move Welsh food up the quality chain and improve exports and prices has been the designation of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.Hybu Cig Cymru estimate that 25% of the growth in Welsh lamb exports between 2003 and 2012 can be directly attributed to its PGI status.
“Astonishingly however, as we leave the EU, there is no guarantee either of the continuation of PGI status for Welsh food nor even that Welsh food will be branded as Welsh. It is important that Welsh food is recognised as Welsh food as we exit the European Union, rather than it being draped in the Union Jack or marked as from some vague geographical Britain.
“This is vital for our nation’s self-confidence and economy. Food and drink companies turn over nearly £7 billion a year and exports increased nearly 13% in the first six months of 2016—an increase of £15.2 million alone.
“Now is the time that we should be upping our game on branding food from Wales as Welsh, with a clear story to tell about our excellent quality, the source of the food, animal welfare and environmental standards.
“I am not convinced that the Welsh Government is taking this threat to Welsh branding seriously enough. It axed our own food awards in 2013. “Gwir Flas” had an enviable marketing edge and told the story of the quality of our food. We need to bring back our own food awards, not rely on “Welsh winners” in a UK “Great Taste” competition.
“Awards raise status and increase ambition within the sector. A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would have also designated 2018 as a National Year of Welsh Food and Drink to promote Wales’ quality produce in a sustained and intensive year-long campaign to encourage customers in the UK and overseas to buy more Welsh products.”