£21m Project Helix to boost Wales food and drink sector
A new £21m programme to help food and drink producers has been unveiled by the Welsh Government.
Project Helix, funded by the European Union, aims to create 370 jobs over five years in west Wales and the valleys.
The money will fund research into global food trends and new ways of reducing waste.
It comes three years into a government strategy to increase the turnover of food producers in Wales by 30% by 2020.
A two-day Taste Wales event has been organised in Newport to bring together Welsh food producers and buyers from across the UK and beyond.
In 2015 there were 22,100 people working in more than 500 food and drink companies in Wales.
When catering, retail, wholesale and farming are included the total working in that field reaches 223,100 and joint turnover reaches £16.8bn.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said the industry was "firmly on course" to meet its growth target.
"Project Helix is the next step on the journey to ensure our food and drink industry is globally recognised for quality, creativity and skills," she said.
Cwm Farm Charcuterie was set up in Pontardawe near Swansea in 2010 by farmers Ruth and Andrew Davies.
The couple started by selling their own sausages and burgers locally from a trailer.
Their food was spotted at Conwy Food Festival and someone bought their product and sent it to a friend - Tomos Parry - who is a chef in Mayfair in London.
In 2011, they won four gold awards at the Royal Welsh Show and the following year won a grant from the Welsh Government to go to Denmark to learn how they produce pork products there.
Since then Ruth and Andrew have worked at Food Centre Wales at Horeb in Ceredigion for 18 months, perfecting their products, and have also studied salami production in Italy.
The couple now work from a small unit in Pontardawe making Welsh salami using laver bread or leeks as well as Welsh Nduja - spreadable salami.
She has meetings with major buyers, including from the United States and Hong Kong, at Taste Wales at the Celtic Manor.
"I feel I'm not going around knocking on doors, they're coming to us, all under one roof and I'll speak to as many as I can and hopefully get some orders," Mrs Davies said.
Eirlys Lloyd, of Food Centre Wales, said: "By being more strategic there is huge potential for the Welsh food and drink sector to improve and realise its ambitious growth targets."