Thursday 8 July 2010

Assembly Members call for Welsh drinks to be promoted

From Brew Wales
The Rural Development Sub-Committee in the Welsh Assembly issued its Report into the Wine, Beer, Cider and Spirits Industries today.
Full report is downloadable here.
Some statistics from the report:
  • There are around 40-42 active breweries in Wales, more than in living memory
  • There has been a 20% decline in on-trade volumes in the year to January (SA Brain)
  • 200 Welsh pubs have closed in the past year (CAMRA)
  • There are 35 cidermakers in Wales
Buster Grant, Chair of the Association of Welsh Independent Brewers was extremely grateful for the opportunities presented by the report and said, "We're small producers so we don't necessarily have the knowledge, the skill set and the expertise to put together a quality marketing programme and we won't actually also have the resources and the funding necessary to do it. However, if we all work together there's a whole host of things we can get together to get the word out there that Welsh beer is genuinely some of the best in the world."
     Recommendations from the report:
    1.The Welsh Government should support research into the potential of barley and hop cultivation in Wales, and work with the Welsh brewing industry to support the development of these crops in Wales with a view to giving Welsh beer products a stronger local provenance, and its contribution to Welsh agriculture.

    2. The Welsh Government should encourage maximum uptake by farmers of funding through the Glastir scheme to support the planting of orchards so that all Welsh cidermakers are able to source their apples from Wales. 

     3. The Welsh Government should examine examples elsewhere, such as the New Zealand wine industry where massive growth has been achieved over a short period of time, to learn lessons about how the sector in Wales can be developed to its full potential
    4.The Welsh Government should ensure that it is fully involved in any discussions at the UK level regarding the potential introduction of a minimum price for alcohol. The Welsh Government should liaise with industry bodies in Wales and ensure that their views are taken into consideration by the UK Government.

    5.The Welsh Government should ensure that it is fully involved with the on-going discussions at the UK level regarding voluntary or statutory reform of the beer tie. The Welsh Government should make clear to the new UK Government that it supports the reforms announced by the previous Government, and push for their implementation. 

    6. Should the UK Government not push through with the reforms, the Committee calls on the Welsh Government to investigate the possibility of bringing forward its own legislation to give every Welsh pub and retailer the right to stock at least one locally produced beer or cider.

    7. Specific guidance should be issued to local planning authorities, clarifying the manner in which the planning system should operate with regard to vineyards, brewers and pubs to ensure consistent application of guidelines throughout Wales.

    8. The Welsh Government should follow the example of the UK Government in giving local authorities new powers to protect pubs from being demolished or from being sold with restrictions on use as a pub, including implementing the relevant sections of the Sustainable Communities Act.
    9. The Welsh Government should review CADW’s approach to listing pubs of historical and cultural interest so as to ensure that buildings which are an important part of Welsh communities’ heritage are not lost forever. If necessary, the Welsh Government should introduce legislation to allow the protection of buildings such as public houses that are of importance for social and cultural reasons.

    10. The Welsh Government should do everything in its power, including lobbying the UK Government, to ensure that the progressive beer duty which has been fundamental to the growth of small breweries in Wales over recent years is maintained.

    11. The Welsh Government should lobby the UK government to introduce a progressive duty for wine producers so as to give a boost to the development of small vineyards.

    12. The Welsh Government should encourage the UK government to introduce a graded duty structure for small cider producers, so as to remove the current disincentive to expand above 7,000 litres

    13. The Welsh Government should draw up a distinct strategy for promoting and marketing the wine, beer, cider and spirits sectors. As well as cross-cutting activities, the strategy should include action plans tailored specifically to the needs of each sector. This strategy should link into the Welsh Government’s strategies for food promotion and for tourism.

    14. The Welsh Government should work with Welsh brewers to design a marketing campaign to promote an image of Wales as a country of small breweries producing quality beer, making Welsh beer a recognised quality product both in Wales and across the UK.

    15.The Welsh Government should work with industry to investigate the benefits of introducing a recognisable emblem indicating that produce is a drink of Welsh origin. Combined with a campaign promoting the quality of Welsh drink produce, the emblem should become a guarantee of both origin and quality.

    16. The Welsh Government should improve its own expertise and capacity to support the Welsh wine, beer, cider and sprit industries by appointing an official within its Food and Market Development Division with dedicated responsibility for developing and promoting the sectors in Wales.

    17. The Welsh Government should establish a forum bringing together producers and associations in the wine, beer and cider sectors to exchange ideas and identify priorities for collaborative working within their respective sectors.

    18. The Welsh Government should proactively seek to support the AWIB and UKVA by funding supply chain efficiencies programmes along the same lines as it has done for the Welsh Perry and Cider Society. 

    There's also a list of written evidence to the committee which I may sift through sometime - it's available here.

    So it is now up to the Welsh Assembly Government to act on the recommendations made by the Rural Development Committee, something we can but look forward to, though don't hold your breath. 

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