Wise words for new food entrepreneurs from Crickhowell retailer.
Ray Grenfell has been selling food in Crickhowell for more than 50 years, and he has some sage advice for people thinking about starting up a business.
“When I started out selling groceries, it was mainly loose food. We sold food from jars and wrapped in paper, and we used to cut cheese and butter from big 60lb blocks into whatever sized portion the customer wanted. It was simpler then,” Ray said. “Now everything is so much more heavily regulated, and all the packaging has to conform to food labelling regulations. That’s why the industry moved to pre-packaged goods because they are easier to handle, have a longer shelf life and make stock control easier.”
It doesn’t mean that Ray won’t stock local goods, he sells Welsh Farmhouse Apple Juice and Llangattock Honey as well as smoked foods from Black Mountains Smokery and bread from Askew’s Bakery. “It’s all fabulous local produce, and you can’t beat it for taste. And visitors like to go home with something from Crickhowell, like the apple juice or the honey,” he says.
But sourcing locally presents challenges for retailers like Ray. Because they are under scrutiny from Trading Standards and food regulators, they need to ensure the quality and consistency of the goods they sell. “That means producers who sell to us need to make sure their goods are correctly packaged with all the required nutritional information and so on. And they need to be able to supply to us with consistent quality and quantity.”
Fresh fruit and veg from local gardens and allotments do find its way on to the colourful shelves outside Ray’s shop, alongside that supplied by Goytre-based importer and wholesaler, Philip Jones, particularly if the growers give him some notice. “I would love to stock more local produce, but people need to help us help them by planning ahead. It’s no use just turning up with it and expecting me to take it. If I know in advance that a crop is going to be ready in a week or so, I will make space for it – people like to buy local,” Ray said.
Article and photographs by Tim Jones, As You See It Media
Grenfells & Sons GrocersShop
|Address||21 High St, Crickhowell NP8 1BD|
|We sell/serve locally made food from|