The newly-appointed Board of Directors of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has met for the first time at the levy board’s headquarters in Aberystwyth, and has resolved to start immediately on the work of developing strategic plans for a post-Brexit future for Welsh red meat.
Following a public appointments process led by Welsh Government, ten new Directors were appointed with wide experience in agriculture, processing, food marketing and retail. The Board will be chaired on an interim basis by Kevin Roberts, a former Director General at both the National Farmers Union and the Meat and Livestock Commission, until a permanent Chair is appointed in the summer.
“Our red meat industry, based around iconic brands such as Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef which are known all over the world, is facing a period of unprecedented change,” said Kevin Roberts. “Brexit, as well as fierce competition and changing consumer demands in the food industry, means that as a Board of Directors we have to set to work immediately on setting a bold direction for the next few years.
“Contemplating a future outside the EU, there are opportunities to come together as an industry to find distinctive Welsh solutions to ensure that agriculture and food production is profitable and resilient,” he added. “But in the short term there are certainly challenges, not least the need to ensure continued trade with our mature European markets, and continuing to work to gain access to other countries such as the USA, Saudi Arabia and China.
“Success in growing exports brings a huge benefit in terms of supporting farmgate prices and the processing sector here in Wales,” explained Mr. Roberts. “However our strategies must also look at full remit of HCC’s activity; UK promotion, driving efficient and sustainable production, collating market intelligence, and work in the fields of education, health and public procurement.
“HCC has a full programme of activity planned for this year, working with a wide range of partners in the industry and Welsh Government,” he added. “But we have a new Board with fresh ideas, who can work with Chief Executive Gwyn Howells and his team to meet the challenges that we face in the future.”
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “There is no doubt Brexit will present our red meat industry with significant challenges as over 90% of Welsh red meat exports currently go to the European Union. The whole industry must now come together in an effort to consolidate existing markets ahead of our leaving the EU and also seize the opportunity to proactively identify potential new customers beyond the EU.
“It is crucial, therefore, we have a strong and dynamic team to take this hugely important work forward. Hybu Cig Cymru has a pivotal role in promoting Welsh red meat to potential new customers and will be highly influential as we seek to develop distinctively Welsh agricultural policies.
“I look forward to working closely with the new Board. I am confident it has the right blend of know-how and experience in a diverse range of fields. I am sure the new Board will hit the ground running and, together, we will find the right solutions to ensure a profitable and resilient future for Wales’ iconic red meat industry.”
Biographical details of the new Directors can be found at http://hccmpw.org.uk/about_hcc/hcc_board/