A selection of Welsh food and drink companies are hoping to have strengthened and built ties with prospective partners and investors following a visit to Paris this week.

As part of the Welsh Government’s Food and Drink Wales Trade Development Visit to the region from April 24-27, seven food and drink companies were given the opportunity to showcase their products to a host of distributors and retail buyers, all looking to secure new business.

France is the second largest export market for Welsh food and drink, and with the Rugby World Cup set to take place there later this year, it was seen as a great opportunity to be promoting Welsh produce.

The Welsh companies that took part in the Trade Development Visit to Paris include Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits, based on the outskirts of Brecon.

Following the success of Welsh Government’s participation in SIAL 2022, there is great potential for Welsh food and drink companies to export to France. The aim of the visit is to leverage networking and collaboration opportunities between the producers, Welsh Government and France as well as strengthening business, trade, and tourism relationships.

Allie Thomas, Managing Director of Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits is also looking to use the French visit as a means of investing in the market and review product placement, in light of the serving of bread with cheese as the norm.

Speaking before the event, Allie said: “We have been expanding our exports wholesale business and concentrating on growing markets. We want to reduce our carbon footprint and France is on our doorstep. This market could potentially work well, if we are able to understand how we might adapt our products to meet the needs of this bread-oriented nation.

“We are really looking forward to this visit, we experienced a lot of interest in SIAL Paris 2022, last October and need to make those connections work for us.”

During the visit, delegates had the opportunity to showcase products to selected buyers, importers and distributors and develop new business through a series of in-market briefings, store visits and meet the buyer opportunities.

Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, said: “Exports for the sector have grown in the past decade and we are supporting companies in Wales to see this continue. Our export support programme is available to all food and drink businesses and helps aspiring, new and established exporters.

“It’s great Welsh companies have this opportunity to showcase their fantastic products and to build new working relationships in France ahead of the Rugby World Cup.”

France is the second largest export market for Welsh food and drink, with the value reaching £100m in 2021, up from £72m in 2020. The highest value export category was meat and meat products at £68m, followed by cereals and cereal preparations at £9m. The UK exported £2.3bn of food and drink goods to France in 2021.

France’s imports of goods rose by 21.2 per cent in 2021, while they have the fifth largest packaged food market in the world. The French market is sophisticated with an appreciation for quality and traceability. Increasingly, France is opening to international flavours.

Highlights of the visit included meetings with a number of buyers, both in the retail and food service sector. There was also a retail market tour for delegates to experience what French food markets are like and will include a visit to Rungis Market, the largest wholesale food market which serves the Paris metropolitan area and beyond, which is said to be the largest food market in the world.