Members of the NFU Cymru Livestock Board recently visited Castell Howell Foods to learn more about Wales’ leading independent food service wholesaler.

The board met with Martin Jones, one of the directors of the business who gave an outline of the journey Castell Howell has taken to get where they are today.

From a small rural farm beginnings in Carmarthenshire in 1988, Castell Howell Foods are this year celebrating 35 years of business.

As a family run business, they are extremely proud of their rural roots, which is why they supply and promote local produce as part of their offering to customers and is one of their core values.

Each year, Castell Howell invests millions of pounds on regional produce and services from Welsh suppliers and manufacturers, thus assisting in providing a platform for their products to reach the market.

Castell Howell has 800 colleagues, and their aim has always been to offer ‘The Complete Catering Solution’. Their product range comprises of over 17,000 lines and service allows them to meet this high standard.

Mr Jones said: “We are one family in one community with one mission – to deliver high quality food and educate along the way.”

Edward Morgan, Group Corporate Social Responsibility at Castell Howell Foods, outlined their commitment to the environment, working on their Net Zero Action Plan which was launched in 2021.

They work closely with supply chain partners and external contractors to reduce the impact on the environment, in terms of carbon emissions, water usage and biodiversity. One of the changes they have made include the management of polystyrene waste through the investment of a Styromelt Machine.

The Board heard from Tim Rowe about Castell Howell’s Celtic Pride Beef which also carries the prestigious Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.

This label authenticates the brand and underlines the integrity of the farming practices, whole chain traceability and quality assurance management.

He also explained about their Beef Q project where Celtica Foods Ltd (the home of Celtic Pride) is a key partner along with a collaboration of six organisations.

The Beef Q project aims to improve the eating, consistency and value of Welsh Beef production through the testing and demonstration of an enhanced carcase quality grading system.

This system enables predictions of beef carcase, eating quality and guides the introduction of new carcase data feedback, benchmarking and decision-support systems to the Welsh Beef supply chain, aimed at their beef supplier farmers.

The Livestock Board is keen to see how this can now be used more widely in the industry and integrated into the existing EUROP grid payment system which focusses primarily on meat yield.

During the afternoon at Castell Howell, the Board had an insightful tour around the depot and butchery, learning facts along the way. They learnt that some of their top selling Welsh items are fresh milk, fresh cream, and fresh butter, closely followed by Welsh Beef, lamb and pork.

Rob Lewis, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chair said: “I’d like to thank Castell Howell for allowing us to visit and for the enlightening depot and butchery tour. It was excellent to hear about the ongoing work they are doing to continue to provide quality, nutritious food whilst reducing their carbon footprint. A top-class example of a food business in rural Wales, where delivering top quality Welsh food to the service sector is at the heart of their business model.