Food and drink manufacturers from across Wales are having to adapt and innovate to the technical and commercial challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. For one business in Ammanford, that challenge was compounded by being launched in the middle of the current lockdown.

Y Gegin Maldod is an online confectioner selling a range of sweet treats such as flavoured fudge and non-bake biscuit bars. The business was registered in January and founder, Louise Waring, had planned to spend the summer selling at food fairs to build up a following.

Louise, a freelance graphic designer had dreamed of opening a food business since childhood. When the pandemic hit and her regular design work dried up, she had her new venture ready to launch within weeks.

To set up the business so quickly, Louise was supported by a food technologist from the Welsh Government-backed Food Innovation Wales team which provides funded technical support to Welsh food and drink manufacturers.

Working with food technologists from Food Centre Wales, one of three Food Innovation Wales centres, Y Gegin Maldod was supported through the process of a remote Environmental Health inspection, ensuring Louise had all the correct systems in place to operate her food business safely from home. The Food Centre Wales team also helped with labelling to ensure accurate ingredients and allergen listing, shelf life information and legal product descriptions.

Louise Waring said: “Without the support from Food Innovation Wales I can honestly say I would not be running the business now.

"I’d still be trying to work out HACCP plans and what I needed for my labels - I certainly wouldn’t have had the Environmental Health Officer’s approval to trade.

"Their support has been priceless to me, as I now have an income coming in at a time when I would otherwise have nothing.

"They even helped with sharing their contacts with other baking producers and ingredients suppliers, which has saved me money.

“I’ve baked at home practically all my life, but doing it on a mass scale for public consumption is a totally different ballgame - there’s so much to consider technically and from a food safety point - it’s very daunting.

"But with the knowledge they’ve given me, I feel so much more confident. I’m so grateful for the ongoing support I’m still receiving from them,” she said.

Arwyn Davies, from Food Innovation Wales, said: “It is great to see the success that Y Gegin Maldod has had in such a short space of time and we look forward to working with Louise as she continues to grow her new business."