Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has welcomed the announcement by the UK Government Minister George Eustice of the latest step forward in opening up the USA to lamb exports. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published consultation proposals which pave the way to the lifting of import restrictions on red meat from Britain.
The American market has been closed to lamb from Britain for twenty years, however work has been ongoing to re-establish the trade by HCC, as well as the Welsh and UK governments.
Gwyn Howells, chief executive of HCC, visited the USDA in January 2014 in the company of Welsh Ministers, and further meetings have been held this year – most recently at the Royal Welsh Show last week.
The development is particularly good news for PGI Welsh Lamb, over 30% of which is exported and can command premium prices in high-end food retailers.
“The news that the United States Government is pressing ahead with a consultation on bringing its rules on animal health in line with other countries is very welcome,” said Gwyn Howells.
“Reopening the American market is something that we’ve been working hard on for a number of years. We’ve commissioned research which has shown that there is a potential demand for high-quality PGI Welsh Lamb in the American market – particularly in retailers and foodservice clients on the east coast.
“The domestic lamb industry in the USA has been in decline, therefore there’s certainly room for exports. For Wales alone, this trade could be worth up to £20 million a year.
“We await the result of the US Government consultation, and some formalities regarding inspections of facilities will need to be undertaken. But this is undoubtedly a positive development.”