Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

How Aldi’s Next Big Thing winner used Food Technology Centre to fill supermarket order

Fungi Foods founder Gareth Griffith-Swain produced his dried Lion’s Mane mushroom on an industrial scale at the Llangefni centre after winning the C4 show

Gareth Griffith-Swain praised Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Food Technology Centre after winning Aldi’s Next Big Thing.

The founder of Fungi Foods won a contract to supply more than 1,000 Aldi stores across the UK through the Channel 4 show.

He used the Food Technology Centre (FTC) in Llangefni to mass-produce his dried Lion’s Mane mushroom, which will be available on the supermarket’s shelves from Wednesday.

Gareth first used the centre for shelf-life testing and bespoke food safety training through Project HELIX last year, before taking part in Aldi’s Next Big Thing.

The six-part series sees food and drink suppliers compete in a range of categories, including dinners, baked goods, party, world, and confectionery.

Gareth appeared in the ‘Healthy and Wholesome’ episode, which aired on Tuesday night, when viewers saw his product chosen by Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK.

After winning the contract, the 33-year-old returned to the FTC, renting out the food preparation hall for six months so he could produce his dried Lion’s Mane mushroom on an industrial scale.

With the lease of the halls, Gareth also had food technologists on hand to support him in operating the dehydrator equipment, and to ensure that the correct hygiene and health and safety procedures were being adhered to.

Gareth said: “Having access to the facility has been a crucial part of our success. Without the Food Technology Centre we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“The food technologists have helped me at every stage of production, and nothing has ever been too much trouble. They have been an imperative part of this journey and I would recommend their services to any Welsh food and drink producer.”

He added: “The Food Technology Centre has supported me on multiple projects, from new product development, shelf-life testing to food safety mentoring.

“It’s a fantastic asset to Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and the work they do to assist local food and drink businesses is second to none. The service I’ve received has been invaluable, and it has helped us plan the next stages of the business and see how we can grow and develop - as well as the mushrooms!”

The Food Technology Centre (FTC) has been established since 1999 and plays a key role in transferring knowledge to the food industry in Wales, across the UK and internationally.

  • If your food and drink company is based in Wales you may be eligible for Project HELIX-funded support from the Food Technology Centre. Eligible companies have access to a range of support. Project HELIX is funded by the Welsh Government.