The way in which people shop for food and drink has changed forever following the events of 2020
And Wayne Siddall, owner of Dee Valley Produce in Llangollen, hopes more customers will stay loyal to the local businesses that stepped up to support their communities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Supported by Taste North East Wales – taking place online this autumn due to Covid-19 – consumers are being encouraged to keep buying from artisan and independent producers across the region rather than rushing back to the supermarkets.
Wayne is disappointed to have seen a drop-off in home deliveries after an initial surge in March but is thankful to those who stuck with the Denbighshire firm, which opened in 2007.
“We have been here in Llangollen for 13 years but never experienced anything like this before,” said Wayne, who runs the wholesale and retail firm with partner Samantha.
“We use as many local producers as we can and like them saw a big rise in the number of home deliveries during the first lockdown, while the pubs and hospitality side of the business completely shut down.
“At one point we were working from 7am until 9pm and had 60 orders a day, and as we were packing whatever people requested rather than set boxes it was very time consuming.”
He added: “But things are not like they were, on some days now we have less than 10 boxes out for delivery, which is disappointing.
“I would definitely encourage people to keep buying from local firms because we really need it, especially in the run up to Christmas and into 2021.
“Some of the house orders we were doing in the first lockdown have stayed with us but not many new ones have come back on, so business has been down by around 50%, especially during the ‘firebreak’ period here in Wales.
“A lot of people changed the way they approached food and drink and their weekly shop and have stuck with it, while others raced back to the big supermarkets.
“For those who have stayed with us we appreciate it and thank you – we will all get through this together and hope more customers will look to buy locally at what is a vital time for all industries.”
The second annual Taste North East Wales is taking place online this year after organisers Clwydian Range Food and Drink and Llangollen and Dee Valley Food and Drink, with the support of Cadwyn Clwyd, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and the local authorities of Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire, decided to host a virtual celebration to ensure the health and safety of participants.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Coordinators Robyn Lovelock and Jane Clough said shopping local and supporting local businesses is so important for many reasons.
“Firstly, we are keeping our towns and communities vibrant,” said Robyn.
“Small independent shops make for a great shopping experience and keep our communities alive. In better times it is a chance to meet friends and neighbours and develop a relationship with the people we are buying our food from.”
Jane added: “Successful shop keepers and producers will buy services from local tradespeople and money circulates in a sustainable way.
“Locally produced food and drink is great for environmental sustainability and food security. Reducing food miles plays a big part in reducing our carbon footprint and Covid-19 has shown how potentially fragile food chains can be when food is travelling long distances.
“When we buy locally directly from the producer we know how and where it is produced and that instils great confidence. Producing and consuming locally has so many positive benefits.”