A young entrepreneur from Llangollen is helping to introduce Welsh food to our English neighbours with help from the Welsh Government’s Rural Development Plan.
* Owen Dawson of Artisan Foods.
Owen Dawson set up Artisan Foods only a few months ago, and can already count Eurospar among his growing customer base.
As well as a solid list of loyal Welsh customers, the 30 year old is starting to see more and more interest in Welsh produce from customers from over the border in areas such as Cheshire and Shropshire.
Artisan Foods is a wholesale company distributing delicatessen and speciality Welsh produce. It is based in Ruthin and will distribute to around a 70 mile radius.
When starting up, Owen took advantage of help from the Denbighshire Enterprise Bursary.
The bursary is funded by rural development agency Cadwyn Clwyd as part of their ambitious £3.6 million regeneration programme for rural Denbighshire throughthe European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) through the Welsh Government’s Rural Development Plan.
The business received a £2,000 grant which helped to pay for equipment, storage space and marketing.
Owen said: "I saw that there was a gap in the market with plenty of people producing top quality produce and also a rising amount of retailers wanting to sell it, but there weren’t many distributors willing to take it from the one to the other.
"At this point, the business is where I hoped it would be, and I’m enjoying the responsibility that comes with being your own boss. My success and failures are based purely on the decisions I make, and building my business from scratch and seeing it grow has been very rewarding so far.
"At the moment I’m very focussed on taking Welsh produce over the border, I am seeing a growing demand for Welsh food in England, because although the food is still locally produced, it’s that little bit different to what is usually on the shelves in English outlets."
As work increases, Owen is making plans to take on staff to lighten the growing load that comes with the pressures of his successfully blossoming distribution business.
Alun Davies, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes, has recently established a group to look at the new Rural Development Plan programme for 2014-20.
The Deputy Minister said: "Success stories such as Artisan Foods show just how important the Rural Development Plan is for Wales. I am pleased to see how RDP investment can make a real positive difference, not only to individuals, but also to the wider economy during difficult financial times.
"I am determined to continue to provide the best possible outcomes from the opportunities that come with forming the new RDP.
"I will explore all possibilities and options, and to build on the valuable work that is already being delivered under the current plan."