Wales creates strategy to boost growth in Welsh drinks

Wales’ drinks sector has set out a new five-year plan to prepare for continued growth in a range of drinks categories.

Spirits, wine, cider, bottled water and low/no alcohol beer are all key growth areas across the Welsh drinks sector, according to the voice of Wales’ food and drink, the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board (FDWIB). The drinks industry already makes a significant contribution to the Welsh economy, with a Welsh retail sales value of more than £950 million, according to the FDWIB. 

The ‘Growing the Drinks Industry in Wales’ strategy has been led by the Drinks Cluster, as well as the FDWIB and Welsh Government.

The Welsh Drinks Cluster was established in March 2017 by Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary for Environment Planning an Rural Affairs, to raise the profile of the Welsh drinks sector and to lay out the direction for the industry, which is growing in diversity as well as commercial value.

Andy Richardson, chair of the FDWIB, said: “The development of the drinks sector strategy marks a key stage of the Drinks Cluster’s journey. Initial cluster activity has revealed a number of strategic priorities, which respond to the industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. These priorities have been identified as innovation, scale up, marketing and skills.”

The strategy details significant areas of growth such as spirits and low alcohol beers. It highlights gin and rum, where there has been substantial growth, and it also shows no/ low alcohol beer has outperformed others in the beer and ale category.

It also analyses barriers to growth, such as skills shortages, access to energy, changing consumption patterns and the decline of pubs and traditional on-trade outlets. Other factors include sugar tax, minimum unit pricing and consumer attitudes to plastic.

To tackle the challenge of skills shortages, the Cluster has begun engaging with the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink. This collaboration will result in the first-ever bespoke provision of technical training requirements for Welsh brewers in partnership with BrewLab.

Richardson continued: “The next step for the cluster will involve working within Special Interest Groups to develop an identity and marketing strategy tailored to each sector’s positioning and needs. Our aim is that by working together on the key strategic priorities we will: help build Welsh drink brands both at home and abroad; improve skills and knowledge across the sector to support innovation and increase the environmental performance of the drinks industry.”

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