Uncontrollable global forces ensured lamb prices endured a worrying roller coaster ride throughout 2015 - but the worldwide marketplace still holds the key to Welsh farming’s long term future prosperity, HCC Operations Manager Prys Morgan told industry representatives last Thursday.
“We’ve had to put up with low exchange rates that have hammered our exports while facilitating a flood of cheap imports from New Zealand that have hacked at lamb prices for most of the summer and autumn,” he told HCC’s conference at Llandrindod Wells.
“The market has been saturated at times by over-supply and on top of that supermarket trade battles have seen adjustments on farmgate returns that have minimalised the percentages of producer payments that come from products on the shelves.”
“We have been marketing our premium PGI Welsh Lamb products in the eye of this perfect storm and have seen lesser brands barge their way into our shelf spaces purely because they have become cheaper.”
Mr. Morgan’s message was that the same wider global influences that caused problems in this season can help provide the elusive route to profitability required by the industry in the days without subsidy.
“Our work in opening new markets, and in supplying more of our products to our established export territories, will build to provide a platform to shore up prices even when the vagaries of exchange rates and supply have an impact.
“Every day the world becomes a smaller place and we have more in common. There are plenty of wealthy people in the world and part of the joy of disposable income is eating the best lamb in the world.
“HCC, with our processors and producers, have an essential role to play in opening new markets and directing those markets to the great taste of PGI Welsh Lamb - and the supermarkets have a key role to play in protecting supply sources to make sure they have products to sell in this future landscape.”
Mr. Morgan presented to the conference results from the HCC summer and autumn marketing campaign which included a touring mobile billboard, a cooking demonstration roadshow and a PR and social media blitz. He announced that the HCC Welsh Lamb television commercial had won a silver award in competition with established and well-resourced brands like Specsavers and Hardy’s Wine. The 30-second advert aired on 26 different TV channels between September and October.
He said research conducted following the advert demonstrated it had helped fashion consumer opinion and reinforced key marketing messages concerning the provenance, quality and taste of PGI