Project HELIX innovation boosts Welsh food and drink industry

A newly-launched report shows how a strategic initiative designed to boost innovation and efficiency within the Welsh food and drink industry has delivered over £44m of impact in its first two years of operation, by helping businesses increase and retain sales, along with reducing waste and processing costs.

The Welsh Government and EU-funded Project HELIX is delivered by Food Innovation Wales, which is a partnership of three food centres based in Cardiff, Ceredigion and Anglesey.

The key objective of Project HELIX has been to support, through knowledge transfer, food and drink producers and manufacturers overcome barriers to growth by providing easy access to both practical and academic support. This is further facilitated by state of the art manufacturing facilities providing technical support and bespoke training that has helped develop hundreds of new products, drive increases in production and reduce waste in the supply chain.

Other headline outputs from Project HELIX to date include:

  • 147 jobs created with a further 869 jobs safeguarded
  • 172 businesses assisted
  • 173 training days given for 217 participants
  • 92 new businesses supported
  • 77 new markets accessed
  • 203 new products developed

Attending the launch of the report at the Royal Welsh Show is the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, who’s spoken of her delight at the progress of the scheme and urged businesses to take advantage of the support on offer: “These figures published today show what a fantastic boost Project HELIX has delivered to the industry and underlines the importance of placing innovation at the heart of driving further growth. I would urge producers and manufacturers to explore what support is on offer and how its expertise and advanced technical facilities can be of benefit to them.”

Businesses who’ve already received support include Mhairi Hill of Welsh Hills Bakery, who said: “The technical support programme provided by Project HELIX has been instrumental in developing the workforce with regards to food hygiene training and internal audits of the technical system to ensure we comply with customer requirements and the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. It has also been a great support in helping to change the culture of the production and packing operatives with regards to good manufacturing practices.”

Scott Davies of Hilltop Honey added: “We have used their specialist knowledge for several projects, including new product development, accreditation, microtesting and bespoke training. You can trust them to give you the best possible service and I look forward to working with them for several more years.”

Meanwhile, for Jonathan Williams of Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company: “I’m not quite sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t had their help. I know it would have taken me so much longer to get to where I am now and I probably wouldn’t be supplying M&S as I just wouldn’t have been up to speed commercially without their support.”