Local businesses and entrepreneurs are innovating to pull through the Covid-19 crisis and initiatives in the food and drink sector, such as the newly-established “Ymaichi” service in Aberystwyth has been welcomed by Plaid Cymru.

The party's shadow rural affairs minister Llyr Gruffydd MS, together with Plaid Cymru’s Westminster spokesperson on rural affairs Ben Lake, are leading a major new campaign to help boost the Welsh food and drink industry.

The 'I'm buying local' campaign encourages communities to buy more locally produced food and drink with the aim of helping those businesses cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as building resilience for the future.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster spokesperson on rural affairs Ben Lake MP said:

“Like many other sectors, the food and drink industry has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The sudden closure of restaurants and cafés, and the loss of export markets saw many Welsh farmers lose their markets overnight. Despite these significant challenges, it has been inspiring to see the determination of local businesses to support each other in innovative ways, and it is heartening that so many people are turning to local suppliers and producers. 

"One great example of how a local distribution network has been developed in the north of Ceredigion is Ymaichi, a service set up in response to the crisis that helps local food producers in the county distribute their produce.” 

Ymaichi is a not-for-profit delivery service that sources food and drink produce from local producers that can be ordered online via their website. The service was set up by Aled Rees and Jo Williams in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Aled owns many businesses in Aberystwyth, including Siop y Pethe, Cambria Tours, Teithiau Tango and co-owns the restaurant Byrgyr.

Aled Rees who runs Ymaichi said:

“As soon as the lockdown restrictions were introduced, it was inevitable that food supplies would be severely disrupted and that this could have a potentially catastrophic impact on the local food and drink sector. 

“I wanted to make it easy for communities in the north of Ceredigion to access local, quality food and drink produce without having to leave their homes. Having done some initial research, I realised that people wanted to support the local economy and local producers, which is why I decided to set up Ymaichi.

“Through the Ymaichi website you can order locally produced meat boxes, fruit and veg boxes, bakery produce and homemade meals delivered straight to your door. The service has been very successful so far. I’ve delivered to homes as far north as Machynlleth and as far south as New Quay and people are extremely grateful to be able to support the local economy.

“I hope that the change in shopping habits due to the pandemic may also mean a change in the way we look at our local produce and local economy in the future.”

Plaid Cymru's Ben Lake MP added: 

“The Ymaichi model is an innovative way of promoting local produce within the modern arena of an online market. Local, sustainable produce will always be the popular choice for consumers – the challenge is making these products easily and readily available. By supporting initiatives like this and buying local produce, we are helping to reduce the food miles travelled, which have an environmental impact, and assisting with keeping the local economy buoyant.”

Aled Rees added:

“This is a model that could easily be rolled out in other communities across Wales and I would be more than happy to share my knowledge and offer advice to anyone interested in setting up a similar service in their local community.