Fall in lamb prices sparks action by HCC

Falling lamb prices are a cause of major concern for farmers across Wales who are receiving between £25 and £30 per head less than they were a year ago.

As a result Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales is launching a series of measures to try and alleviate the crisis engulfing the sheep sector.

“The dramatic fall in prices is a worrying development for the industry,” said HCC Chief Executive Gwyn Howells. “It has been caused by a number of different factors combining to create a perfect storm for producers.”

A strong pound and increased red meat imports – particularly lamb from New Zealand - coupled with a plentiful domestic supply caused by a favourable spring and consumer demand hitting a plateau has affected returns for UK farmers during the first half of the year.

The UK produced more lamb between January and March compared to the same period last year while exports have fallen and imports increased. Imports of sheep meat for the first three months of 2015 were up by 12 per cent on the previous year to 30,200 tonnes.

New Zealand exported 23,600 tonnes to the UK during the first quarter of 2015, an increase over the previous year of 24 per cent. While the supply of New Zealand lamb is coming to an end, their season has extended well past its traditional period and has overlapped with the traditional Welsh Lamb season.

Now HCC will launch a series of marketing initiatives much earlier in the year than usual to stimulate demand amongst consumers highlighting the quality of Welsh Lamb. The campaign will include TV and billboard advertising and digital marketing.

HCC are also in talks with the major supermarket chains to discuss the availability of Welsh Lamb in their stores following claims that some have been favouring imported meat over home grown produce.

The package of marketing initiatives, which will run from July into the autumn, will be unveiled following HCC’s Board meeting next week.