On Friday 16th February, Mid-Wales honey producer Hilltop Honey, welcomed a selection of Welsh Assembly members to visit its production facilities in Newtown, as part of a Government programme to address Welsh food and drink.
The Assembly members, including Simon Thomas AM, Russell George AM, Mick Antoniw AM, and John Griffiths AM, dropped by Hilltop Honey on the morning of Friday 16th before heading over to Theatre Hafren to engage in topical discussion about Welsh food and drink, led by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones AM.
During the tour of Hilltop Honey, Assembly members met with Managing Director, Scott Davies and his team, before enjoying a tour around the recently expanded production site. Hilltop Honey’s new headquarters officially opened in 2017 by Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths after receiving a £240,000 grant from Welsh Government to support the expansion. On the visit members asked Scott about his business journey and aspirations, which started in 2011 when Scott started making a few jars of honey for local retailers. The business has gained tremendous growth, market presence and has scaled up to now be one of the UK’s leading premium honey brands, producing around 70,000 jars of honey every month to major national retail – that’s almost enough to fill the Principality Stadium!
Russell George, AM for Montgomeryshire, said: “I’d like to thank the team at Hilltop Honey for their hospitality and views on the food and drink sector in Wales. Their points, and those of the other growers and producers who kindly came along, were invaluable to the committee members ahead of our meeting with the First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, and many of those concerns were raised directly with him.”
After the visit to Hilltop Honey, members headed to one of their regular meetings with the First Minister of Wales in Newtown at Theatre Hafren. The meeting addressed topical issues including the impact on Brexit on the food and drink industry in Wales, potential future international trade arrangements following withdrawal from the EU and how this will affect food standards and the promotion of Welsh food production and the ‘Welsh brand’.
Chair of the Committee, Ann Jones AM, said: “The food and drink industry is of vital importance to the economy of Wales. It is a major employer in its own right and supports a range of other industries, such as tourism and hospitality. As the Brexit negotiations continue it is important the Welsh Government is doing all it can both to influence the UK Government’s approach, but also to plan for different eventualities. We asked the First Minister, on behalf of Welsh farmers and producers, from small cottage operations to large-scale commercial operations, what preparations his government is making and what opportunities have been identified to promote brand Wales post Brexit.”
Scott Davies, Managing Director of Hilltop Honey, added; “We’d like to thank the Welsh Assembly members who took the time to visit us and learn about our growing honey business. Food and drink is a rising star in the Welsh economy, characterised by its diversity and quality of producers. Around 240,200 people are employed across catering, retail, wholesale, agriculture, and manufacturing illustrating how food and farming really is a priority sector for our country. At Hilltop Honey we’re passionate and proud to support and be a part of this dynamic and growing sector for Wales and look forward to many exciting opportunities ahead.”