Starting a successful Food or Drink business in the midst of a pandemic

It may feel daunting to start a new business now, but the changing world in which we now live and work because of COVID-19 has created new opportunities for many would-be food and drink entrepreneurs.

Food Centre Wales is busier than ever, with many start-ups undeterred by Covid.

The pandemic has not discouraged many food and drink entrepreneurs from starting up - and although Food Centre Wales has been closed since March 2020, they have been able to adapt their services to offer support online and remotely to businesses. The online start-up service is designed to help new food and drink producers to turn their passion into a business. The sessions highlight all the help and support on offer to get a food or drink business off the ground. Food Technologists are there to guide and support every step of the way on all aspects of food production.

Case study: Black Mountains Preservers

While the Covid-19 lockdown has disrupted lives the length and breadth of the country, it has also provided opportunity for people stuck at home to get creative in the kitchen and rediscover their love of cooking.  A perfect example is Black Mountains Preservers – producing homemade luxury jams, chutneys and conserves - the business was supported by Food Centre Wales to set up quickly and efficiently during the first lockdown. The business first contacted Food Centre Wales in the spring of 2020 and attended an online start-up session, which explained the support available funded through Project HELIX. 0wner Helen Dunne then went on to work with a Food Technologist.

“Food Centre Wales’ played a pivotal role in my HACCP planning and implementation. Most importantly being there as a sounding board to discuss ideas and new creations. We are currently agreeing a more scientific approach working through ideas and best practice when working with Refractometers and PHMeters. They are also analysing my recipes to establish nutritional details and confirm which of my preserves could be marketed as low sugar recipes.“ - Helen Dunne, Black Mountains Preserves.

Support and encouragement received from Food Centre Wales’ Food Technologists has given Helen the confidence to believe in her ideas and to continue producing on a larger scale. Food Centre Wales helped Helen with HACCP, to ensure all correct procedures were used from the beginning, which has enabled Helen to adopt effective systems for setting up her own production. 

Case Study: Milk Churn

Another successful lockdown start-up is Milk Churn, launched in July 2020 in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic, the milk vending business is based on a family farm on the outskirts of Llandissilio. Milk Churn first approached Food Centre Wales at the start of 2020 before the pandemic hit and the Food Technologists have been able to assist right from the initial business idea. With the Food Centre able to provide support with assessing project viability, site design and process set up.

The dedication of the Milk Churn team and continued support from the Food Centre enabled the business to launch during an extremely challenging time with full environmental health and legal product compliance. This has included development of their food safety management systems, documentation requirements as well as practical aspects of food processing.

Milk Churn have attended several FCW online workshops including those on HACCP guidance and dairy diversification, as well as continued one to one advice and support from the food technologists.

 “Food Centre Wales have been instrumental in the setting up of Milk Churn. Majorly from a paper work side of things, but also being a person at the end of the phone, or someone to reply to an email no matter how small or at times basic the question may be! Food Technologists also did a site visit pre covid to advise on location and work flow, which was a massive help. The help has been crucial for the business, with us having very little processing experience we were starting from a clean slate, and they have been excellent at guiding us through the various stages.” - Scott Robinson, Milk Churn.

Scott was fortunate to get in touch with Food Centre Wales early on in his business venture, before the lockdown. This enabled him to learn the correct procedures from day one, so he was sure he was producing a safe product.


FCW Online Start-up Service

 “We’re proud to be able to continue to offer our start-up service online. Our food technologists are available to help start-ups navigate their way through a range of food disciplines and regulations – we look forward to helping new food or drink entrepreneurs take their first tentative steps to set up a food or drink business.” Arwyn Davies, Corporate Manager Growth and Enterprise, Ceredigion County Council.