Explore how we have already helped many food businesses achieve their goals
Many businesses have grown and flourished as a result of the help and support Food Technologists have provided during the 20 years that Food Centre Wales has been operating. Here is a small section of case studies about clients we have worked with:
In the rural coastal town of Cardigan, Osian and Catrin were early pioneers of the ‘artisan eatery movement’ when they opened their doors to Crwst in 2018. From its humble beginnings at a weekly local market selling Osian’s artisan bread and delicious cake creations, Crwst now serves brunch, bread, bakes, and coffee from their prime location café in Cardigan.
Like many cafes, the pandemic lockdown in 2020 was the catalyst for Crwst to pursue their development of jarred products for retail. Osian’s delicious recipes used in daily bakes or brunch dishes, such as Pembrokeshire Seasalted Caramel, soon became firm favourites for their ‘Crwstomers’ to take home and devour. The products soon became staples in many pantries across West Wales and the Great Taste awards bought the products to an even larger audience. Similar to the Crwst Café, production quickly grew, more flavours were added and new production premises were soon needed to accommodate the expanding bakery and retail product range.
Support Provided by FCW
Through Project HELIX, funded support was provided by Food Centre Wales to assist Crwst with the commercialisation of their retail product range. This involved shelf life analysis, nutritional labelling HACCP and legislation compliance.
“We were already familiar with following Food Safety requirements for our café, however manufacturing is a whole different ball game. The Food Technologist from Food Centre Wales advised and guided us throughout the whole process, which meant we were following legislation correctly from day one.” Rhodri Jones, Crwst.
Sales of their products increased quickly and interest from retailers and wholesalers soon gained momentum. It wasn’t long before the new production facility was also developed alongside the expanding bakery and achieving SALSA soon became a goal to facilitate more orders from larger retailers. A Food Technologist worked closely with them by completing a gap analysis and helping them to ensure processes and procedures were in place ready for the SALSA audit.
Benefit of the Support
Advise and guidance from Food Centre Wales was provided to enable Crwst to sell their product legally. Mentoring them throughout the process to achieve their SALSA accreditation was instrumental in receiving more orders from larger and national retailers.
“We are very lucky in Wales to have the support we have received from Food Centre Wales, especially in achieving SALSA, as this has certainly raised our profile by receiving orders from large companies. This has been fundamental in achieving our goal of seeing our products on the shelves in Harrods!” Rhodri Jones, Crwst
Crwst has plans to grow the distribution of their retail products and increase production capacity and they have already attended LUNCH and Taste Wales this year to help reach their targets. Osian is passionate about creating delicious food and they are currently developing more products that they can add to their range in the near future.
Feedback from the FCW
Crwst is a great example of a Welsh business providing excellent quality food locally, who has adapted to change quickly and retained a loyal customer base. This has been the foundation for the business, which has grown considerably over the last few years. They have focussed on a small range of products to start manufacturing and not only made them tasty, but also ensured they are to a high standard.
“It was a delight to support Crwst with their product range and then to achieve SALSA. They are very quick learners and keen to do everything correctly. I look forward to continuing to support them with new products and accreditations, especially any tasting that is required!!”. Gerallt Morris, Food Technologist, Food Centre Wales
Whatever they make is of high quality and tastes great, so we can’t wait to see what they make next!
Founded in 2018 through a passion for authentic flavours and Welsh provenance, In the Welsh Wind was born on the Welsh coast of Cardigan Bay. The original dream to distil only small batches of craft gin quickly evolved into them becoming maverick distillers and spirit makers for many businesses as well as their own brands. Although the business is still relatively young, growth has been very impressive with their innovations leading to multiple award-winning spirits products, of which, many are exported worldwide.
The move in 2019 to a new larger premises enabled them to increase their production areas as well as offering gin making and tasting experiences in their licensed bar and event space. Barley grown in the field on site has enabled them to develop a unique to Wales and the UK, ‘grain to glass’ whisky offering, which is currently available to buy in cask for personal maturation and will be ready for the bottle in 2025.
In March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, like other distillers in the UK, In the Welsh Wind had people knocking at their doors for hand sanitiser. Their quick response to this led to the business being the first distiller in Wales to produce and supply hand sanitiser. Not only did this contribute massively with controlling the outbreak, but it also enabled the business to utilise resources that were not used for the hospitality side of their business at the time of lockdown. Fortunately, many people also moved towards purchasing their favourite spirits online and the ‘custom spirits customers In The Welsh Wind produce for continued with production to supply the ongoing demand.
Whisky production was always a key goal for the business and the move has enabled them to achieve this. Due to no barley malting manufacturers available in Wales, their ethos for locally sourced and produced spirits would have been compromised, so other options needed investigating. Developing their own process as an alternative to kiln dried barley was the catalyst to innovating a unique single malt whisky of green grain Welsh barley. The first barley harvest in Autumn 2021 has already been processed and created the first batch of whisky that will be matured in barrel in the coming years.
Support provided by FIW
Food Technologists from Food Centre Wales assisted with the production of the Hand sanitiser through Project HELIX. They ensured the recipe provided by The World Health Organisation (WHO) was followed correctly and helped implement the production process for the product effectively. Changing the use of alcohol to produce a different product incurred much paperwork with HMRC, which The Food Technologist was instrumental in collating. Ensuring that the business fulfilled their legal obligations without incurring further alcohol duty implications was important to be able to offer the hand sanitiser free of charge in the first instance.
In Autumn 2020 In The Welsh Wind began experimenting with barley to create it’s unique whisky making process. Further support from a Food Technologist enabled them to test and trial different methods and use equipment from the food centre funded through Project HELIX. Between them, they were able to develop a unique method of processing the barley that doesn’t require kiln drying. This not only has huge environmental benefits through energy savings in production, but also creates a unique ‘green grain’ flavour to the whisky, not present in whisky distilled using traditional methods.
Benefit of support
The quick response of the Food Technologist supporting In The Welsh Wind through Project HELIX led to a very quick implementation of hand sanitiser production.
“The support from Food Centre Wales was certainly instrumental in assisting us to produce the hand sanitiser during the pandemic. Had we not had a Food Technologists support early on it would’ve take us much longer to be approved for production. This would have had a massive impact on the supply of hand sanitiser in the local area. To date we have produced 45,000 litres of hand sanitiser for commercial and public consumption.” Joe Lewis, Business Manager, In The Welsh Wind
Not only did this result in In The Welsh Wind being the first to produce the hand sanitiser in Wales, but also the first to be able to commercially supplying the product to Key organisations in the region including the NHS, Police services, Mid & West Wales Fire Services, RNLI, County Councils and many more.
“Once again, we have been very fortunate to have received support from a Food Technologist with developing the whisky production process. Helping us implement ideas and lending equipment for our trials as well as asking for solutions to solve any problems we had. H we not had help from Food Centre Wales, this could have become a much more costly and timely process.” Joe Lewis, Business Manager, In The Welsh Wind.
Feedback from Food Centre Wales
“In The Welsh Wind’s rapid response to producing hand sanitiser for the pandemic was just as important as their commitment to ensure they could produce it effectively. Their team are very knowledgeable and adaptive, which was exactly what was needed at the time and I was able to work with them to provide detailed guidelines on the paperwork and legal requirements of the changing production. Other distilling businesses in Wales were then able to use the same guidance to implement hand sanitiser production and increase supply across Wales.” Sarah Thomas, Food Technologist at Food Centre Wales.
“It has been delight to continue working with In the Welsh Wind on the development of their whisky production. It’s challenged me to use existing equipment we have at the food centre in different ways. They have come with an open mind and willingness to learn so we could experiment with different methods to trial production techniques. The result has been an innovative approach to whisky production that will result in some unique flavours.” Sarah Thomas, Food Technologist at Food Centre Wales.
The business continues to grow and expansion plans are on the horizon once again. The need to increase production areas is required to supply demand from more retailers for their own award winning In The Welsh Wind Gin brand. Contractors will break ground soon with the aim to complete the extension project by the end of 2023.
This expansion develops alongside the business working towards a third party accreditation, SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Assurance). Many retailers now require SALSA from their suppliers and once the business is awarded this it will open up even more markets to them. Through Project HELIX funding a Food Technologist from Food Centre Wales will be assisting them through the process, starting with a gap analysis and plans that will need to be put into place throughout the businesses production process.
“We are lucky to have a Food Technologist assisting us with all the technical aspects of our business so far and they are able to continue to support us with our business growth once again. We are aiming to achieve the SALSA accreditation within the next 6 months and with the support from a Food Centre Wales this is definitely an achievable target”. Joe Lewis, Business Manager, In The Welsh Wind
Bluestone Brewing Co is a microbrewery, established in 2013, based on the family farm in Pembrokeshire. Producing award-winning keg, cask, bottle and canned craft style beers. They have a core range of five beers and a rotating range of seasonal specials.
The ethos behind the business has always been about creating great tasting sustainable beer responsibly and with as little impact on the planet as possible. All of the bi-products from brewing are re-used on the farm or fed back to their animals. The water that they use to make their beer comes from their own well and they also generate their own solar power!
In recognition of their environmentally friendly ethos, Bluestone Brewing were named the winners of the Sustainable Business of the Year Award at the Wales Food and Drink Awards 2023.
They deliver direct in their own vans across Wales and work with distributors such as Blas Ar Fwyd to supply further afield. They have a shop stocking their products, as well as a taproom on site.
Support Provided by the FCW
Bluestone Brewing received support from Food Centre Wales when they started their journey to becoming SALSA accredited. They were assigned a Food Technologist who worked closely with them to improve their processes and ensure everything was in place in order to pass the audit.
Simon Turner, Founder of Bluestone Brewing said, “The support we’ve received from Food Centre Wales has been invaluable, it was great to have somebody on hand to answer our questions and point us in the right direction. The knowledge and experience of the Centre’s team has been key in guiding us through the process.”
Project HELIX funded support via Food Centre Wales and Food Innovation Wales is available to eligible businesses on a range of technical and commercial support that can be tailored to the needs of individual companies.
Project HELIX delivers practical knowledge transfer activity, support Welsh food and drink companies to develop and reformulate innovative products from concept, design, development and manufacture, through to the consumer’s shopping basket.
Benefit of the Support
The advice and support from Food Centre Wales helped them get their SALSA accreditation, ensuring that they have the confidence that the products they supply are safe, legal and of consistent quality.
Simon explained, “In order to achieve SALSA plus Beer accreditation we had to demonstrate that we have high quality food safety systems in place, right across all aspects of our business.
This accreditation has enabled Bluestone Brewing to sell to a wider variety of customers and hopefully sell to some of the bigger retailers for whom SALSA is a requirement of supply.
Gerallt Morris, Food Technologist said “The SALSA plus Beer certification is a real mark of quality and I would like to say a massive well done to all the team at Bluestone Brewing. To reach the standards required is difficult. Not many small breweries have got anywhere near this quality standard – it is a fantastic achievement for all involved.”
Simon added, “We worked really hard over the past year and passed our audit with flying colours. We are one of only 10 breweries in Wales to achieve this so far and we are absolutely delighted.”
Bluestone Brewing are installing two new tanks this summer in order to increase their capacity and be able to cope with larger volume orders. They installed a canning machine in late 2021 and plan to brew a range of canned beers this year in order to reach new markets with a new range.
Pembrokeshire Lamb is a family farm and business focused on quality and sustainability. Founders Steve and Kara Lewis, run their farm and business with an ethos to promote gate to plate Welsh lamb products that have been reared and cared for with traditional farming values in animal husbandry and welfare. The North Pembrokeshire business was born in 2019 to showcase its lamb, hogget and mutton – the damp climate supporting the growth of grass and forage - ideal for year round grazing. Their Pembrokeshire Lamb meat boxes come delivered in sustainable packaging to homes throughout the UK.
Following the success of the newly established lamb business, Steve and Kara decided to expand and started production of their own range of accompanying sauces to complement their lamb. The Welsh Saucery’s current range includes ketchup, brown, BBQ, tikka and mango chilli. The tikka, bbq and mango chilli all won a star each in the Great Taste Awards 2020.
Support Provided by the FCW
Food Centre Wales first helped Pembrokeshire Lamb in the autumn of 2019 with a large range of services, including Food Safety System Development, Site Visit and Review. The business also received help with HACCP to ensure all their systems followed food safety protocol.
Pembrokeshire Lamb quickly moved onto new product development of The Welsh Saucery products, with recipe formulation, HACCP and Micro Testing to provide shelf life and trial production of product, all taking place in the Innovation & Manufacturing Hub at Food Centre Wales. The team of technologists also conducted nutritional analysis and ingredient listings for the labelling of the different sauces created, to ensure they followed all the legal requirements and regulations, as well as provide training on how to work on a larger scale.
Pembrokeshire Lamb were encouraged by Food Centre Wales to attend the BBC Good Food Show in the Autumn of 2019 at the NEC Birmingham. It was suggested to Steve and Kara to take along some cooked lamb samples, as well as some accompanying sauces...
“The Good Food Show was a great success - it was suggested we made the sauces to sell.” – Kara Lewis, The Welsh Saucery.
Benefit of the Support
Steve and Kara were fortunate to be told by a fellow client of Food Centre Wales about the support available early on in their business venture. This enabled them to learn and master the correct processing systems from day one and therefore ensure they were producing food products safely and efficiently right from the start.
The couple had planned to launch their new sauce business in early 2020, but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Steve and Kara were kept up to date throughout lockdown and were one of the first clients back producing at the commercial processing facilities at Food Centre Wales. They have come away with the skills needed to develop and produce their new products ready for market. They have been able to utilise the facilities and equipment at the centre, with Food Technologists on hand with knowledge and expertise each step of the way.
“Sarah at Food Centre Wales has been invaluable in supporting and guiding us in the production of the sauces and helping us have the confidence to launch The Welsh Saucery. Without Food Centre Wales, I doubt we would have taken the leap into sauces. Their guidance and support as well as facilities has been so useful. Their support has been massive.” – Kara Lewis, The Welsh Saucery.
The Welsh Saucery plans to continue using the facilities at Food Centre Wales to produce their range of sauces, as well as any other future products that may be in the pipeline.
Feedback from the FCW
“The business was all set to diversify into sauces pre-covid. They were one of the first commercial clients that we were able to have return to the Food Centre under our new rules in order to produce. It was important that they were able to start preparing stock ready for winter and Christmas sales, having missed this year’s BBQ season.” - Sarah Ivens, Food Centre Wales Food Technologist.
Alana Spencer became a self-taught chocolatier at 16, renting her first kitchen and selling luxury chocolates to friends, family and teachers before attracting the interest of two shops in Aberystwyth. Her chocolates became incredibly popular and soon Alana was travelling nationwide, selling her luxury treats at food events and shows.
Alana is notable for winning the twelfth series of BBC One's The Apprentice in 2016 and received an investment from Lord Sugar for her luxury cake business, Ridiculously Rich by Alana.
Support Provided by the FCW
It has always been important to Alana that the products are manufactured in Wales using the finest ingredients and in October 2019, Ridiculously Rich moved into its first purpose built bakery in Alana’s home town of Aberystwyth. The technical team from Food Centre Wales supported Alana throughout the move to her new premises, by assisting her with the factory layout, equipment sourcing and HACCP Plans, to ensure the new premises met the demands of the growing business.
Food Centre Wales helped Alana’s new factory achieve SALSA standards in just six weeks - the Food Technologists conducted a gap analysis of the processes and procedures to identify the areas that needed work to achieve the SALSA Accreditation and offered guidance to reach those standards. Gaining SALSA Accreditation at the new site has enabled the business to continue its growth plans, reach new market sectors and has opened up larger opportunities for the business as a whole.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Food Centre Wales Food Technologist Sarah has been assisting Ridiculously Rich with labelling requirements and content for reformatting labels following a shift to more prepacked items requested by its customers. Due to the impact of Covid-19, businesses had to adapt quickly to changes triggered by the pandemic, which meant having to speed up the process that would normally have more time and resources to assess and manage. Food Centre Wales was available to advise Ridiculously Rich on creating legally compliant labels by ensuring they followed all the legal requirements and regulations.
Benefit of the Support
Since the bakery officially opened in October 2019, Ridiculously Rich by Alana have expanded the product range by 30% and opened an on-site shop to sell bespoke products. The bakery’s popularity has led to large queues seen frequently outside the door.
“The help available from Food Centre Wales was amazing and we couldn’t have done it without them. They were there every step of the way, before we had even built the bakery! They helped us with any question, large or small and even came out to visit us on site on numerous occasions to guide us in the best way to become SALSA approved.
The funding available to businesses in Wales is incredibly helpful, this process would have taken much longer had we not had this help and may have substantially delayed growth for the business. We very much hope to continue working with the Food Centre Wales and it is a relief knowing there is so much support along the way.” – Alana Spencer
“We are now in discussions with multiple national retailers and can proudly ensure them of our high standard of operating with our SALSA accreditation.”- Alana Spencer
Food Centre Wales are lined up to help Alana and her team at Ridiculously Rich with their future ventures. The business is quickly outgrowing the current layout of the bakery and therefore are planning to restructure the space for better utilisation. Food Centre Wales will be a part of the planning process to ensure SALSA and food safety guidelines are met.
Feedback from the FCW
“I was fortunate to be able to work with the dedicated and passionate team at Ridiculously Rich on a project to successfully transition into new premises, whilst maintaining all of their food safety and quality accreditations. Together we were able to work on making the move and all of the system changes it brought as smooth as possible to enable to business to continue to prosper and grow.” - Sarah Ivens, Food Centre Wales Food Technologist.
In the heart of the Welsh Black Mountains, Helen Dunne produces her own range of preserves in her home kitchen in Talgarth. Her homemade luxury jams, chutneys and conserves are completely free of artificial flavourings and preservatives, with a high fruit content and low sugar.
Launched in March 2020 during the first lockdown, Black Mountains Preserves is testament that even during a pandemic it is possible to start a successful food business from home.
The run-up to Christmas saw a huge demand for her luxury Welsh Hampers, which included artisan goods made by other local food producers within the locality, these were a hit and were sold out by mid-December. She has now launched a luxury gift set selection ready for Mother’s Day.
Helen was keen to develop sustainable and recyclable packaging and a loyalty scheme devised, where customers can return empty and used glass jars to Helen, in exchange for a free jar.
When asked what impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on the business:
“Bizarrely, I believe that it has had a positive impact and helped my new fledging business grow. I know that I have received orders from customers determined to support local, rather than shop at large established big brand retailers. I also might not have gone online if I had been kept busy with higher visitor numbers that had been anticipated across the national park in 2020.” – Helen Dunne, Black Mountains Preserves.
The pandemic gave Helen the opportunity to concentrate on new flavours and the positive feedback received from her customers encouraged her to branch out from just the local market to retail outlets across the county and Wales. To reach further afield, Black Mountains Preserves created an online shop and website in October 2020 and now delivers UK wide. Their Bespoke Personalised Jars are proving to be very popular.
Support Provided by the FCW
Black Mountains Preserves 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. Helen then went on to work with a Food Technologist.
“Rhian from 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. Rhian is 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.
Benefit of the Support
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.
Helen plans to continue to work with Food Centre Wales to expand the production and increase the range, whilst maintaining the ‘homemade’ process.
A new Taste of Wales Gift Set will be available all year round to include Welsh Ale Chutney, one of their top selling preserves and a new edition of Welsh Gin Marmalade. Look out for the Worldwide Collection which is currently in development.
Launched in July 2020 in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic, Milk Churn is based on a family farm on the outskirts of Llandissilio, where the family’s goal was to diversify the farm to a more resilient business against fluctuating milk prices.
Milk Churn was originally born from the idea of selling raw milk in 2017, but due to the high-risk nature of raw milk, the family decided against it and turned their attention to pasteurised milk a few years later. The milk vending business has been a family effort, but this new business venture is lead by the youngest member of family, Scott Robinson.
The milk vending machine is replenished each morning, with fresh, pasteurised, non-homogenised milk, straight from the farm. Alongside the vending machine is a self-service honesty shop - selling local eggs, bread, cakes, coffee machine and a recently installed milkshake station, where customers can help themselves to different flavours of milkshake syrups to add to their freshly bought milk – all available from 7am until 9pm.
“We are constantly looking to evolve our business and have been looking at a few other things to add.” - Scott Robinson, Milk Churn.
Support Provided by the FCW
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 able 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 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! Sarah and Mark 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.
Benefit of the Support
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.
“The support has made the difficult process of setting up a food business so much smoother and easier. It helped us push along and get through the process much quicker than if we were to do it alone. We continue to work with Food Centre Wales and they are always there to help with any queries even after opening they continue to provide excellent support and advice to the business.” - Scott Robinson, Milk Churn.
Feedback from the FCW
“Scott and his family have been great clients to work with and have taken every opportunity to utilise the support offered by Food Centre Wales. They have managed to overcome the challenges posed by Covid-19 and diversified their dairy farm into a wonderful family business that they can be extremely proud of. I am privileged to have been involved and we are already looking at some exciting new projects to expand on their already great success.” – Sarah Ivens, Food Technologist Food Centre Wales
Pembrokeshire Beachfood Company was born out of Jonathan’s passion for creating quality seafood using local ingredients. Its origins are from a delightful beachside shack ‘Café Môr’, in Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire - from where all manner of delicious hot meals and snacks are served from Easter to September. Café Môr’ was the brainchild of Jonathan, who wanted to escape the daily office grind to amerce himself in a business that utilised his catering skills and enabled him to spend more time by the sea, which he loves.
In his element out in the fresh sea air, Jonathan collects all the seaweed he needs for creating his produce at nearby beaches. He then processes it all in his own food manufacturing unit, ready to go into the delicious food he creates. Having set-up in 2010, he successfully attended many large festivals and events during the first couple of years in business, but Café Môr’ finally anchored its roots in Freshwater West, which also happens to be Jonathans favourite beach - a dream come true! Café Môr quickly build a reputation for using the best local produce to create interesting and flavoursome meals, drawing in regular customers from all over.
“I love the sea and I’m so happy now to be working here doing what I love. My passion lies in creating delicious food, but it must be using the best local ingredients possible. I don’t want to just make food, I want to make exceptional food that is full of flavour and makes people go ‘wow’”
In 2012 Jonathan started to create products for sale to delis and farm shops, which quickly expanded to the likes of M&S, who snapped up his ‘ships biscuits’ as part of their ‘Best of British range.
Going to events such as the Speciality and Fine food Fair and Lunch, helped orders come in from all over the UK and worldwide. Exporting has helped their business grow further, with events like Taste Wales in 2017 generating orders worldwide, including Sweden, Nigeria and America.
Support Provided by the FCW
Food Centre Wales first helped Pembrokeshire Beachfood in 2010, following a referral from Landsker who were helping Jonathan set up his new venture. At the time, it was cake production and shelf life of cakes, that he needed assistance with. As his business grew, this quickly moved onto new product development of the ships biscuits, recipe reformulation and help with establishing consistent production methods. Over the coming years new flavours were also introduced and Food Centre wales were there to help with each process.
In 2012, Jonathan won a competition to supply the Olympics with 20,000 wraps. The team at Food Centre Wales assisted him to get the production of them set-up in the centres very own food processing areas.
“We were lucky to be able to hire the processing rooms at Food Centre Wales to produce the wraps for the Olympics. Having been let down by a company with only a few weeks to go, they took the stress away from organising the production to meet the order. I’m not sure what we would have done if they were not there to help”
Food centre Wales has helped Jonathan through a large range of services, including Product Specification, New Product Development, process design, HACCP and micro testing. The team of technologists also conducted nutritional analysis and ingredient listings for the labelling of the different products created, to ensure they followed all the legal requirements and regulations.
“Food centre Wales really is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to help you with food manufacturing. Not only can they help you develop your products, but they have such a wealth of knowledge that they pass onto you, it really is invaluable to my business. Even now, if I have a problem, I know I can phone them up and they will help me with solutions”
The latest creation ’Kelchup’, which is a seaweed ketchup, was developed with help from Food Centre Wales. The first batch at the end of 2017 was very popular and surpassed expectations as it flew off the shelves! A more regular production supply is expected in the imminent future.
Benefit of the Support
Jonathan was fortunate to be told about Food Centre Wales early on in his business venture. This enabled him to learn and master the correct processing systems from day one, so he was sure he was producing his food products safely and efficiently from the beginning.
“I was very much approaching this as chief at the start, with me creating things without measuring most ingredients. At Food Centre Wales I learnt the importance of consistency, so became scrupulous at measuring everything and using the exact same process each time I created dish. This certainly set me in good stead for producing our products commercially”
Food Centre Wales assisted Jonathan with many products. He has gone from producing in his mum’s kitchen using a Rayburn, to having his very own commercial processing facility. The Food Technologists have given support and advice along the way and he has benefited from having their knowledge and expertise to help him on that journey.
The most recent new product development has been funded through Project HELIX, which is a WG initiative delivered by Food Innovation Wales under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Fund. Had this support not been available at Food Centre Wales, the Company would have needed to go to a manufacturer directly to have the product developed for production.
“I’m not quite sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t had help from Food Centre Wales. I know it would have taken me so much longer to get to where I am now and I probably wouldn’t be supplying M&S as I just wouldn’t have been up to speed commercially without their help. I have been very fortunate that Food Centre Wales has been able to provide me with so much support and knowledge, which is just on my door step.”
Having the development work funded through the HELIX project has enabled Pembrokeshire Beachfood to develop the new product with little financial investment. They can now utilise those finances more effectively on promoting the product to an even wider audience.
Jonathan continues to ensure all the food created by the company is locally sources and of the best quality available. Having experienced large growth over the last few years he intends to spend the immediate future re-evaluating the business and ensuring everything is running efficiently. Focus will be on promoting and building customers for their existing products.
Jonathan has started to work towards achieving SALSA, but is also exploring more co-production options, so he can focus on his passion for creating their delicious food at Café Mor.
He is by no means putting his feet up though, as he has spent the winter refurbishing a boat and fitting it out to soon be revealed as the new ‘Café Môr’. The project will be completed to be launched for the start of the season at Easter.
'Natural, sustainable and delicious food from West Wales'
Bug Farm Foods was born from a shared passion for innovation, science, the environment and delicious food. Chef Andy Holcroft and entomologist (insect scientist) Dr Sarah Beynon have come together to develop a new generation of delicious, insect-based foods that are good for you and good for the environment.
The journey began in 2013 when Sarah and Andy, who are both experts in their fields, bought back Sarah’s old family farm, Lower Harglodd, on the outskirts of St Davids, Pembrokeshire. A year of renovation works led to Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm (or ‘The Bug Farm’) opening as a research centre, working farm and visitor attraction showcasing their passion for sustainable agriculture and delicious food. Sarah’s research in sustainable food production and, in particular, entomophagy (the eating of insects) inspired Andy to experiment with new recipes using insects, with the aim of replacing traditional meat products with insects. Their whole philosophy is to develop foods using more sustainable ingredients that will also provide you with more nutritional value, including higher protein content, omega 3 and amino acids. These trials soon evolved into dishes on the menu in Andy’s restaurant ‘Grub Kitchen’ at The Bug Farm, the first full-time entomophagy restaurant in the UK.
Three years on and the Bug Farm is an award-winning attraction and academic centre of excellence, winning the Best Start-Up Business of the Year in 2016 and the Sustainable/CSR/Green Business of the Year in Wales in 2017. Grub Kitchen is also busy scooping awards in its own right, winning the Innovative Business of the Year for Wales award in 2017.
Following a programme commissioned by the BBC called ‘The Bug Grub Couple’ (aired in August and December 2017), they started to develop their Cricket Cookies under their new Bug Farm Foods brand. The aim was to create a cookie that gave consumers an easy way in to including insect protein in their diets.The development of their Cricket Cookies from kitchen to food manufacturing was a big step, but one that has been very successful. The programme helped raise the profile of the business further and the new Cricket Cookies have been very popular, particularly with the gifting market.
Support Provided by the FCW
Tasked with developing the Cricket Cookies into a commercially viable product, Andy and Sarah contacted Food Centre Wales for help. Firstly the Food Technologists worked with Andy to re-formulate the recipe ingredients to create a product that could be produced on a larger scale. Once the recipe was up-scaled for small scale manufacture, the process of making the cookies was developed. As Andy had been making the cookies by hand in small batches until now, this was not commercially viable for a larger scale production. The Food Technologist adapted an existing machine to help with automating the cookie cutting process and increase the production times.
“Plunging into food production was initially very nerve wracking mainly because we wanted to do it properly. However, the support and guidance from Food Centre Wales was fantastic and totally put our minds a rest. We had the peace of mind that we were doing it properly from day one and that we weren’t making any mistakes.”
The Food technologists helped with HACCP and becoming registered with the Council Environmental Health Officer. Once the product was developed they have also done microbiological nutritionals, shelf life testing and calculations for labelling.
“The Food Technologists at Food Centre Wales have really mentored us throughout the whole process and passed on their knowledge to us so we are confident in utilising the new skills we have learnt from them. Their support has been invaluable and if we have a problem or want to know something, we can just pick up the phone and ask them.”
Benefit of the Support
All the support The Bug Farm have received to develop the Cricket Cookies and get them into the marketplace has been funded through Project HELIX, which is a Welsh Government initiative delivered by Food Innovation Wales under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Fund. Had this support not been available at Food Centre Wales, the company would have needed to fund the new venture themselves.
“We are a small business start-up and did not have the capital to invest in developing, testing and setting up the processing. Also, we were not experienced at manufacturing, so we did not have the knowledge needed to progress with the idea. Had we not been able to go to Food Centre Wales for support we would have spent a fortune on consultants and we would have had to risk investing more money into another experimental venture, which we probably would not have done”.
The support offered by Food Centre Wales has enabled Bug Farm Foods to get off the ground. They have been able to learn everything they need to know about running their food processing business and have had the peace of mind that someone is at the end of the phone if they need additional support.
Since then, the couple have successfully secured more funding through the Welsh Government and Innovate UK SBRI project to develop food products containing insect protein for consumption in schools, to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat in children’s diets. This funding is also enabling the business to expand and build its own R&D facilities onsite at the farm, which will enable them to develop more new products to add to their Bug Farm Foods range.
The Food Technologists from Food Centre Wales are assisting them with the layout of the new factory and sourcing the equipment required. Once completed, they will also help with HACCP and getting the facilities ready for approval by the council Environmental Health Officer.
Sarah and Andy have lots of ideas for products they would like to explore and they intend to continue to expand the Bug Farm Foods product range in the future.
Established in 2000 as a group of four Welsh Organic Farmers selling milk to local people, the co-operative now have many family farms. Their business ethos strongly believes in keeping things simple. The cows graze clover rich organic pastures that have not been treated with sprays or chemicals. They also have plenty of exercise and fresh air out in the field and when they are read, they milk them themselves. Calon Wen pays its farmers for the quality as well as the quantity of milk they produce, which means the farmers are not pushed towards high yielding systems.
Calon Wen also started to produce a range of dairy products in 2003 with the organic milk from their farms. Starting with butter, they now also make cheese and frozen yogurt. The Company creates products and utilises external processing companies to manufacture the products on their behalf.
Calon Wen is now a leading brand in Wales, supplying Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s & Waitrose, with their products also available in many independent retailers across Wales.
Support Provided by the FCW
Calon Wen first contacted Food Centre Wales in 2016 when they wanted to develop their own organic cheese. Food Centre Wales assigned their specialist Cheese Making Technologist to assist Calon wen with their product development. Food Centre Wales developed the new Preseli Blue Cheese product for Calon Wen and underwent numerous trails to prefect the recipe and processes for them.
‘We have been very fortunate that Food Centre Wales has not only had the commercial dairy facilities to develop our cheese product, but also the knowledge and expertise of the Food Technologists, who have developed the cheese and trained people to make it for us’
The Food Technologists then spend time training their chosen manufacturer, Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in North Wales, in the cheese making process and ensuring that they could successfully replicate the product for them. The new cheese called ‘Preseli Blue’ has now been trademarked and is due to be on supermarket shelves early in 2018.
Benefit of the Support
The new product development has been funded through Project HELIX, which is a WG initiative delivered by Food Innovation Wales under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Fund. Had this support not been available at Food Centre Wales, the Company would have needed to go to a cheese manufacturer directly to have the product developed for production.
‘It would not have been as easy to develop the blue cheese as we wouldn’t have had so much control over the recipe if we had gone elsewhere. We also like that we are not ‘tied’ to a certain manufacturer now as the recipe for the cheese is ours, we can choose the best manufacturer to produce it for us’
Having this work funded through the HELIX project has enabled Calon Wen to develop the new product with little financial investment. They can now utilise those finances more effectively on getting the product to market and promoting the product to a wider audience.
Food Centre Wales is currently assisting Calon Wen with Supplier Assurance, to ensure a more efficient and consistent production of their new cheese product. This assistance is also funded through Project HELIX, which aims to improve the efficiency of food manufacturing systems in small and medium sized companies.
Calon Wen will continue to experiment with flavours and hopes to develop more new dairy products in the near future.
The Little Welsh Deli is a family run business based in Llanelli, who specialise in producing a selection of handmade pasties and tray bake cakes. From its humble beginnings in the husband and wife teams’ home kitchen, the business has expanded into its very own production facility to keep up with the demand for their delicious pasties. What started as a hobby making cakes and selling at Farmers Markets, the introduction of their homemade pasties took them into a much bigger market.
“We stumbled upon the idea of making pasties by chance. Clare made a load one weekend for a Farmers Market and they sold out straight away! So, we thought perhaps we should make some more, and so we did…”
The popularity of their pasties at Farmers Markets and Food Festivals all over Wales grew the business to the point where they had outgrown their catering kitchen in the cellar at home and they needed to have a rethink. As a former nurse, Clare was used to the long hours needed to develop and grow the business and when her husband Ryan was made redundant it was the perfect time to develop the business to the next stage.
They moved to their own unit in Llanelli last year and can now produce 2500-4000 pasties a week as well as supply Castle Howell with their tray bake cakes. The couple both work full time on their business and employ their niece, son and a friend to help them, so it’s a small friendly team and luckily they all enjoy working together!
Their pasties can be bought in garages, coffee shops and caravan parks all across South and West wales, as well as supplying Cardiff Airport and Swansea University.
Support Provided by the FCW
They first contacted Food Centre wales in 2015 as they had outgrown their kitchens and equipment at home and needed to look for somewhere to make their pasties. They came a cross FCW online and at first they did not realise the extent of the facilities available at the centre.
“I remember looking around the Food Centre production areas for the first time and seeing all the equipment and thinking, oh my, how do we go from our kitchens at home to this!!”
The food technologists at the centre helped them to replicate their processes on a much larger scale using the commercial equipment at the centre. They also received help with HACCP to ensure all their systems followed food safety protocol. They used the facilities to make their pasty fillings and also to mix the pastry. Once they had perfected their recipe for upscaling they would arrive at the centre once a week to spend a day using the production facilities onsite.
During the 18 months they were processing at the centre and taking on board advice, they gradually changed their production methods to enable them to increase their capacity.
“Eventually we had most of our ingredients delivered at the centre, including pre-cut vegetables such as onions, instead of doing it all ourselves. We also got our systems fined tuned and were able to produce up to 6 different fillings on one day”
Following a successful grant application, they started to look for their own production facilities closer to home. They were astute in their search for equipment and managed to finance the rest of the development themselves.
Benefit of the Support
The Little Welsh Deli was able to practise and hone their production methods whilst using the Food Centre. They could test their systems without having to invest heavily in more new equipment, allowing the business to grow without accruing dept. The Food Technologists were always on hand at FCW to train them in the use of equipment and offer advice to help the process run smoothly. FCW helped with HACCP, to ensure they were utilising the correct procedures from the beginning, which has enabled them to adopt effective systems for setting up their own production facility.
“We would not be here now had we not come to Food Centre Wales as it was the stepping stone we needed to reach the next level in our production. We were able to use the facilities and equipment to increase our production, which led to our business developing into a full time food production business”
Overall, by utilising FCW facilities for 18 months, this has helped the business flourish and enabled them to finance the next stage of development with the help of the grant they received. They have been able to grow at a steady pace and increase their workforce to fulfil the growing demand for their products.
Having successfully taken part in a tasting session with a leading supermarket buyer, the next step is for them to achieve SALSA (Safe And Local Supplier Approval), which will enable them to supply the supermarket.
The Food Technologists from Food Centre Wales will be helping in identifying what additional documentation they require to achieve the accreditation and then assisting them to produce those policies, procedures and records. Additional assistance will be given to ensure ongoing maintenance and compliance for future audits.
“It’s difficult to find the time to go through SALSA when you are so busy with production, so it will definitely help that we will have support in achieving this with guidance from Food Centre Wales, rather than trying to do it ourselves”.
Increases in production also bring with them the issue of capacity and they are currently looking at adding in more automation into their production by introducing a crimping press for their pasties, which are currently all hand crimped. This would enable them to increase capacity and fulfil even larger orders in the future.
Tan Y Castell Bakery is the creation of Paul and Linda Mear. Paul started producing the famous Welshcakes at the family farm using an old Aga and then selling them to local shops around his farm.
Once Paul had enough capital, the couple then moved the business into an old cottage and set up a kitchen to meet demand as they were now selling to guest houses, cafes, restaurants and hotels. Again, demand began to outstrip supply and space was becoming increasingly limited. Paul found a unit in Narberth in a small business park not far from where he was living. During this time Paul was covering two jobs, one lecturing at a local college, the other making Welshcakes to the early hours of the morning.
A local supermarket became interested and asked Paul to supply some stores in Wales. Today, Tan Y Castell has two large purpose-built bakeries spread over 6 industrial units and employs over 40 full-time staff. Over 20 years of hard work and late nights have now paid off as we are one of the most recognised and respected bakeries in Wales and we make the best-selling Welshcakes on the market! They are a very proud BRC grade AA accredited food manufacturer producing the absolute highest quality baked goods. From starting with one product, they now have an extensive product range with over 15 different products including our original traditional Welshcakes and modern and tasty Griddle ranges, our award-winning Bara Brith and our all butter Welsh shortbread range. Their products can be purchased from most of the major supermarkets with other customers including county councils, national wholesalers, rail companies, airports, hotels, high-end motor companies and Fortnum and Mason to name but a few.
Support Provided by the FCW
Tan y Castell has received ongoing support from Food Centre Wales of the last 10 years. They have undergone a couple of development projects at the centre. The first was mainly focussed on extending the shelf life of one of their products to enable them to reach new markets. The Food Technologist at the centre worked with them to reformulate their recipe to increase the shelf life of one of their Barabrith products.
‘We spend a couple of weeks at the centre, receiving support from the Food Technologist, in helping us as we were struggling to extend the shelf life of the product at the time. We are lucky to have access to such facilities and expertise close by. Her knowledge and access to the equipment there was instrumental in developing the new products’
When the company decided to expand its product range further and develop Gluten free products, Food Centre Wales was their first point of call. The Food Technologists helped them to source all the raw materials they needed to develop their products. They also underwent a series of trials of the new gluten free shortbreads at Food Centre Wales. The Food Technologists assisted them in developing their new product and perfecting the recipes ready for production. This enabled them to utilise the facilities without interrupting their already busy production factories.
Furthermore, when BRC changed their guidelines a few years ago, Food Centre Wales assisted them in understanding the guidelines and putting in processes to ensure they would meet the new guidelines.
Benefit of the Support
The Food Technologists from Food Centre Wales have offered ongoing support to Tan y Castell Welshcakes as and when required. They have utilised the development and processing facilities on numerous occasions, which has meant it has not interrupted with their everyday production.
‘We have been fortunate to have the help and advice from the Food Technologists at Food Centre Wales over the years. It’s been very beneficial for us to be able to discuss our ideas or technical issues with someone who is not only very knowledgeable, but who also has experience in the industry’
By undergoing product development and reformulation at Food Centre Wales, it has enabled Tan y Castell to continue with their production as normal and they have not had any interruption in their output volumes. The help from Food Technologists has enabled them to solve product issues quickly and efficiently. They have also been able to undergo this work in the confidence that their new ideas and development work is safe.
‘We are lucky we can ask Food Centre Wales questions anytime and be confident that they will not only have the answers but, most importantly for us, that we are treated with upmost confidentiality and we feel safe in speaking with the Food Technologists there’
Had they not received help from Food Centre Wales, they would have needed to seek help from other producers or consultants to conduct this work and this would have been more costly both financially and risk of confidentiality.
Although there are no immediate plans in the pipeline, Tan y Castell is planning to continue to grow their business in the future. They will continue to contact Food Centre Wales for support and advice as and when they require their help.