Small food producers are connected to new markets and helped to promote and sell their goods.
Twelve months ago, Laura Pickup quit her job as a high-flying marketing executive because she wanted, as she says, “to make a difference” for small, independent Welsh food producers.
During her 15 years representing larger organisations in the sector – including Rachel’s Dairy, Welsh Lamb and Visit Wales – she became increasingly frustrated at what she saw as the lack of a route to market for the multitude of smaller businesses dotted around the nation.
Her solution was to set up Discover Delicious Wales, a website backed up by what she describes as “a heavyweight marketing campaign” aimed at helping small producers make their businesses sustainable.
For a fraction of the cost of hiring their own marketing team, Laura helps Welsh food producers connect with customers around the world.
The website also sells activities such as foraging, bread courses and distillery tours.
Laura charges a £150 membership fee and takes a 10 per cent commission, which she says is exceptionally good value.
Although currently supported by European Union funding, she hopes it will soon become self-supporting. “Sales go directly to the producer, placing money into local communities and making local jobs sustainable,” she says.
“I saw a chance to make a difference. My 40th was imminent and it felt like now or never.”
Creating the brand and assembling producers were early milestones. “Launching the website was massive,” said Laura. “But when I saw our tv advert pop up whilst watching football on the telly during the recent World Cup, that was a real pinch-me moment.”
Building the website was complex and Laura worked closely with her team of technicians. “I soon learnt that it was not my job to do it all myself,” said Laura. “Manage your expectations and do a few things well.” Laura also drew advice ‘like gold’ from her mentors.
Laura advises producers to focus on quality, collaborate and “know your market”. She adds: “Quirky products with a clear Welsh identity sell well. Artisan gins and bbq meat are current best sellers, but what’s missing is Welsh seafood. That particular page is sitting dormant and we’d love to fill it.”