Over 40 food and drink businesses from across Wales attended the first ‘Zero Waste Conference’ at Food Centre Wales on Tuesday, 16 October.

 Organised by Food Centre Wales in partnership with Business Wales, the event was aimed to encourage food and drink producers to take a sustainable approach to their businesses, to add value to their brands, whilst developing business leads and boosting sales. Highly topical industry issues were addressed, including sustainable packaging, process efficiency improvements and waste prevention.

Iain Cox from EcoStudio who opened the event said, “This conference comes at a critical time for the industry. Sustainability sells more than ever before. Trade buyers and consumers want food and drink products from brands they can trust. Provenance, good ethics, packaging and waste prevention are all areas that Welsh businesses can gain advantage.”

The UK market for sustainably produced food and drinks is currently estimated to be worth £8.64 billion and is growing 5% year on year.

Councillor Rhodri Evans, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration said, “The interest among consumers in buying food products with higher levels of sustainability has been growing. It is set to grow further, partly as a response to the growing awareness of our massive global plastics problem, and also driven by the wish to generally reduce waste. The calls for industry to respond are also increasing. Through Food Centre Wales, Ceredigion County Council is pleased to be able to work with food manufacturers that want to take action and be seen to take action. This conference was just part of a series of actions the team at Food Centre Wales will be taking to help the industry adapt their practices.”

Representatives from Marks and Spencer’s, Volac, Cwtch Glamordy and Natural Weigh shared their experiences of how they have incorporated changes in their businesses to make processes more efficient, reduce waste and make more informed sustainable packaging choices. They also highlighted the challenges they have had to overcome as well as providing practical advice for businesses on how to become more sustainable.

During the event, delegates were able to take a tour of the Innovation and Manufacturing Hub at Food Centre Wales and take part in Business Wales’s ‘Green Growth Pledge’ Workshop. The workshop aimed to help businesses develop a plan for incorporating sustainability priorities as well as illustrating to customers that they’re an environmentally responsible business.

Any businesses wishing to find out more on how they can make their packaging more environmentally friendly and look at ways to reduce waste, contact Food Centre Wales for more information on 01559 362230 or gen@foodcentrewales.org.uk.