A top Welsh food distribution company is reporting record sales of £600,000 and crowds of over 2,500 at its biggest ever food expo event.
Harlech Foodservice’s annual two-day trade expo smashed last year’s figures – the first since 2019 because of the pandemic – with the 120 exhibitor stands at the high profile event at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru another record.
They came to see – and taste – over 1,000 products being showcased by Harlech which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and to enjoy cookery demonstrations including by Wales’s own BBQ expert, Caernarfon’s S4C star, Flamebaster Chris Roberts.
Exhibitors included internationally known names like Kellogg’s, Young’s Seafood, Doritos, Hellman’s and McCains as well as top North Wales’s producers such as Jones Village Bakery, Edwards the Welsh Butcher, Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy and South Caernarfon Creameries.
Harlech Head of Purchasing Matt Flynn said: “Everyone is saying it’s probably the best show we’ve ever done and the numbers certainly bear that out.
“In the first hour alone we had over 130 people through and they’ve been busy with their order books which have offered them some fantastic offers to book deliveries ahead.
“We’ve gone back to basics this year and provided them with attractive order books with an A to Z list of the products from our suppliers, from Aber Falls Distillery Gin to Zafron Chilled Sandwiches so that they can fill in their orders and leave the delivery to us.
“We’ve also got some real theatre with fantastic exhibitions of cookery from Chris Roberts and our own Steve Griffiths.
“We’ve seen fantastic growth in the education and health sectors and we’re building on that and encouraging customers to increase their spend with us as well as winning new customers.”
Chris Roberts took a break from giving a succulent lamb shoulder the ‘Flamebaster’ treatment to say: “This is my first time here and I’m impressed. It’s very good and very busy.
“I’ve been cooking up some nice rib-eyes from a farm in Meifod in Mid Wales where the cattle are 100 per cent grass fed, all reared on Welsh grass and breathing Welsh air.
“That’s really important to me and it’s what I celebrate – the farmers, butchers and fishmongers of Wales are my rock stars and it’s amazing the way Harlech are promoting them.”
The Expo had a big thumb’s up from customers Dean Bartle, of St Tudwal’s Pub in Abersoch and his head chef, Ben Cunliffe, who said: “It feels very busy with a lot more stalls than last year and plenty of information.
“We get a lot of our produce from Harlech and we know them and have a really good relationship with them.
“Their meat and produce is very good but also their cut-off times for orders are excellent which is really important for us and in high season they deliver seven days a week.”
Baker Glen Simpson, of Jones Village Bakery, said: “Our products go into lots of pub chains, cafes and bed and breakfasts through Harlech so it’s an important market for us.”
Tracie Edwards, Brand Manager for Village Bakery, added: “We know that a big per centage of people in Wales like to buy Welsh produce so we know we need to look after them.”
Edwards the Welsh Butcher Product Development Manager Natalie Bestwick said: “This event is really important to us because it gives us a chance to talk to our customers face to face and it’s great to be able to showcase our products.
“We also supply schools through Harlech and have developed school-friendly recipes because it’s really important that Welsh produce should be going into Welsh schools.”
Michael Burrows, Factory Manager at Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy, said: “It’s always important for us to be here because we’re supporting our brand and Harlech who are a valuable partner for us.
“Our sales have increased over the last two years through that partnership, especially in the schools and it’s important to reach young people because we need to have Welsh products in our schools and all our milk comes from within a dozen miles of our dairy.”
Peter Bayliss, account manager for Doritos, said: “We like to support events like this because it gets us in front of our customers and because our partnership with Harlech is important to us.
“We are working closely with them and with Steve Griffiths, their development chef, on products and recipes for the education sector.”
Radnor Springs, based near Knighton in Powys, have seen their sales rocket through their partnership with Harlech Foodservice and Business Development Manager Molly Breakwell said: “They’re a really good company for us to work with.
“Because we have such a healthy product with a high fruit content and no added sugar we are ideal for schools and Harlech have helped us grow phenomenally, 200 per cent up in the last six months and we’re now in schools all over Wales.
“Harlech have won a lot of schools business and that has really grown our business.”
Harlech Foodservice Ltd employs 200 staff at its bases at Criccieth and Chester and between the two locations, the company runs a fleet of vehicles to deliver 5,000 product lines to cafés, restaurants, pubs and public sector customers across North and Mid-Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands and the North West.