The collapse of Tomlinson’s Dairies and problems in the meat processing industry in Wales has prompted Plaid Cymru’s shadow rural affairs minister to call for urgent government action.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said he was increasingly concerned at “the developing crisis in the Welsh food processing sector”.
He said: “Last week Randall Parker Foods in Llanidloes stopped taking cattle and this week we’ve seen Tomlinson’s close with immediate effect.
“Tomorrow is World Food Day and I will be celebrating the fantastic food and drink we have in Wales but I, along with many in the farming industry, are alarmed at the developing crisis in the Welsh food processing sector.
“Wales is a major milk producer and yet in the past 18 months we have lost both Arla’s Llandyrnog creamery and now Tomlinson’s, with the loss of hundreds of local jobs as well as added insecurity for dairy farmers.
“Welsh milk is now being processed in England and today I have been told that it will be branded as ‘British milk’. If we’re not careful, the quality brand the Welsh Government and others have spent millions on building up will be disappearing before our very eyes.
“That’s why I’ve raised an urgent question in the Senedd today asking for a statement from the Minister about the government’s response to the immediate problems the industry faces. As this Government invested £7 million of public money into Tomlinson’s only two years ago, I also want to know on what basis they decided to invest.”
He also questioned the role of Sainsbury’s supermarket in the collapse of Tomlinson’s: “More than half Tomlinson’s milk went to Sainsbury’s and, as I understand, that contract was withdrawn – prompting the collapse of the company. I’m sure more detail will emerge in the coming days but workers and farmers involved in supplying the dairy deserve answers about the the closure and how it was handled. If Sainsbury’s has pulled the plug, then I have to question whether a single supermarket should have so much power over our food processing industry.”