Guests at Welsh Government’s St David’s Day reception in Brussels ‘left disappointed by lack of Welsh food’
Guests at the Welsh Government’s St David’s Day reception in Brussels were left disappointed by a lack of Welsh food which they believe could have been due to Brexit, Nation.Cymru has learned.
One of the attendees at the event at Wales House in Brussels, which was hosted by the Welsh Government’s recently appointed representative on Europe, said there was noticeably less Welsh produce on offer than in previous years.
It comes amid concerns expressed by Welsh farming unions over new barriers to trade with Europe created by Brexit.
“The event was known for its excellent food and attracted lots of external people from the Eurobubble, a great display of soft power, brand-building and networking,” said the source.
“I remember things like whole Welsh salmon, Menai mussels in Welsh cider and whiskey, Welsh lamb and beef carvery-style, Welsh lamb curry and Welsh cakes being served.”
At this year’s reception, the first since Brexit came into effect due to the pandemic, the only Welsh food on offer was cheese that remains available to buy in local supermarkets and Glamorgan sausages.
“I didn’t hear any organisers say it explicitly, but attendees were speaking about how it may have been Brexit-related,” the source added.
‘Costs and barriers’
First Minister Mark Drakeford attended a separate afternoon tea in Brussels on March 2. A second source said there were a limited number of Welsh cakes available, with the rest of the food available local produce.
The President of the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has said the Brexit deal done by the UK Government is “far harder” than he had hoped for and placed “unjustified restrictions” on Welsh farmers which left them “at a severe competitive disadvantage”.
Additional paperwork needed to export Welsh meat is already threatening jobs, with Randall Parker Foods near Llanidloes warning recently it may have to cut its staff by a third.
“The threat to jobs in Montgomeryshire and the sheep farmers across Wales who supply Randall Parker brings the message home, and action needs to be taken to reduce the impact,” said FUW Montgomeryshire representative Emyr Wyn Davies.
“We had always known that the UK’s decision to pull out of the single market and customs union would create additional costs and barriers, but these have been exacerbated by slow preparations by the powers that be.”
The Welsh Government declined to comment.
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