The future of Welsh lamb and beef exports post-Brexit was a major topic of discussion in Westminster in the final debates before the UK General Election.
But while Parliament is now dissolved until after June 8, red meat agency Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is looking forward to an exceptionally busy month of promoting premium PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef to existing international customers and searching for new business across the globe.
Around a third of the Welsh lamb flock is exported every year, bringing well over £100 million to the Welsh economy. Welsh Beef is also in demand, with annual exports worth in excess of £50 million. Currently, over 90% of the export trade is with the European Union.
This week, HCC is meeting a wide range of clients from across Europe and the Middle East at Tutto Food in Milan, one of the world’s largest food exhibitions, and Welsh meat processors are attending the SIAL Toronto fair in Canada. Welsh Lamb will also be showcased at the Hofex exhibition in Hong Kong where HCC Scholarship winner Peter Rushforth, from Swans Farm Shop in Flintshire, will be conducting butchery demonstrations. Contestants at a major cookery competition at Hofex will also be challenged to create winning dishes using PGI Welsh Lamb. Later in the month, a delegation of overseas agents and marketers will visit Welsh farms to see for themselves the high standards of production and sustainability for which our meat is renowned.
“May is an exceptionally busy month for HCC,” said Chief Executive Gwyn Howells. “Due to the uncertainty over the future terms of trade after 2019, it’s more vital than ever that we both nurture relationships with our existing European customers and intensify our work to open up new markets.
“At Tutto Food, HCC and Welsh meat processors have a packed schedule of meetings with European retailers and foodservice companies who are proud to stock Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, to reassure them of our commitment to grow our brands in these established markets,” he added. “But at the same time, it’s important to showcase our products and attract business in territories such as Hong Kong and Canada, which have potential for increased trade.”
Mr. Howells emphasised that May’s events were also a chance to explore new opportunities which might arise over the next two years. “Canada offers Wales a way to establish contacts for the important US market, where work to gain access for Welsh Lamb has been ongoing for many years and may finally come to fruition in the next twelve months. We have similar hopes for gaining market access to Saudi Arabia; it’s encouraging that Saudi retailers have decided to come to Milan to sample Welsh produce and discuss the potential for future trade with us.”
“Increasing the value of exports has a direct positive effect on the prices for farmers and processors at home,” added HCC’s interim Chairman Kevin Roberts. “It’s vital that we keep our options open – both maintaining our European markets and continuing to work in new territories. Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef are iconic premium products which reinforce Wales’s reputation for quality across the globe.”
For further information on the importance of exports for the Welsh red meat industry, and potential post-Brexit scenarios, HCC’s report on Challenge and Change can be found online at: http://bit.ly/2q5gVWB