EU gives Welsh food sector access to 500 million customers - HCC

Mar 1 2013

Europe is a vital market for Welsh food products, boosting the economy and bringing wealth back to Wales, according to the Chairman of red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru.

“Membership of the European Union gives us unrestricted access to more than 500 million potential customers in 27 countries,” said Dai Davies. “Europe is in effect one massive salesroom with an enormous number of customers passing through the doors, eager for quality products that they can trust.

“Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef fit the bill perfectly, thanks to the EU’s Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) scheme. PGI means that only sheep and cattle born and reared in Wales and processed in HCC-approved abattoirs can be described as Welsh.

“It is seen as a guarantee of the meat’s provenance across Europe – a highly prized seal of approval especially in times of crisis such as this when so many processed foods contaminated with horsemeat have been mislabelled as beef,” said Mr Davies.

“Europe’s protected designation schemes, which includes PGI, mean that when you see PGI Welsh beef or Welsh Lamb on the label, that is exactly what is contained in the packet.”

Wales is the largest sheep meat exporting region in the EU. Exports of both Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef products topped £240 million in 2011, the vast majority ending up on plates in mainland Europe.

Apart from the benefits of open trade with our European partners, Welsh farmers also benefit from the Common Agricultural Policy and payments for projects made under the Rural Development Plan.

Mr Davies welcomed comments made by First Minister Carwyn Jones in Brussels during an eve of St David’s Day reception celebrating the excellence of Welsh food.

The First Minister said: “The food and drinks sector is vital to the Welsh economy and that is why the Welsh Government is committed to supporting Welsh food producers that want to grow and develop markets for their products. We have a growing reputation worldwide for distinctive, good quality food.

“We have ambitions for Wales as a food destination and producer to rival the best in the world and Europe represents a huge market for our goods.

“Consumer confidence in our excellent produce is currently riding high and we intend to build on that confidence. Just look at Welsh beef, which has been awarded the EU’s PGI status. Such meat must adhere to the highest possible standards throughout all stages of its journey – from the field to the consumer.

“This is an example of the kind of unique, high quality produce we have to offer,” said the First Minister.

Mr Davies said: “The value of being part of the largest customer base with unrestricted access to so many potential consumers is immense and the benefits are recognised not only by the First Minister but by everyone who works for or cares about the growing food industry in Wales.”

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