Welsh Lamb brand leads the way on world stage

The iconic Welsh Lamb brand is comparing favourably with its core international competitors in delivering tangible returns on its key promotional activities to boost exports, HCC’s Chief Executive Gwyn Howells told its annual conference on Thursday.

He said recent figures from an independent analysis by Deloittes on international red meat marketing efforts showed HCC’s work to be leading those of other national counterparts with a return on investment rate of 5.4 to one. Meat and Livestock Australia’s beef promotion in Japan and Korea, for instance, returned 4.7 to one.

Mr. Howells also told of the successes of previous HCC targeted export projects, showing examples of media coverage of a previous three-year HCC Welsh Government supported project that achieved £38m returns for a total investment of £1.2m.

“Exports are vital to the stability and sustainability of the red meat industry in Wales and these statistics show that HCC is achieving pretty good returns for every pound we invest in support of the brands.”

Mr. Howells began by saying that only 5 per cent of sheep bred in Wales were consumed in Wales with sixty per cent in the rest of the UK and around 30-35 per cent for export.

Consumer protein preferences and purchasing patterns had changed over the past twenty years with chicken rising regularly and lamb more modestly. Lamb remained popular at Christmas and Easter but these sales spikes were not easily facilitated by the existing production methods. Increasingly we were seeing a carcase imbalance where demand for legs outstripped other cuts and this was being replicated within the export market where whole carcase exports had dropped from 87 per cent in 2005 to 66 per cent in 2015.

He listed HCC’s priority export markets and the detailed process used for selecting potential targets and then concentrated on work carried out and opportunities that existed in three key non-EU territories; USA, China and Saudi Arabia.

“The challenges post-Brexit reside in ensuring continued and unfettered free access to the Eurozone,” said Mr. Howells.” If tariffs were to be introduced on a WTO model then we could find we are faced with additional charges of as much as 45 per cent on product exported to Europe.”

Addressing the domestic marketplace, Mr. Howells said it was important that HCC helped the industry to produce products that could meet changing consumer tastes and accommodate lifestyle needs.

“For instance, many modern young couples have a desire to cook but just don’t have or make the time; nowadays the preparation of an evening meal takes an average of just 32 minutes compared with 45 in 1990 and 60 in 1980.

“In addition, lamb fares less well when compared with other fresh red meat as a possible ingredient of a midweek meal. It is forty per cent less likely to be used and as a result it is 19 per cent less likely to be consumed by under 45’s,” he said.

Furthermore, the 55-plus age group were more than twice as likely to cook a roast dinner but increasingly it was a meal for just two people and so the 1kg roasting cut was proving too big for this purpose.

“So here are two new opportunities: ready to cook dish solutions in growing UK consumer markets such as Indian and Italian dishes and smaller, half leg roasts to meet the needs of the over 55s,” said Mr. Howells.

These initial thoughts were distilled from a new HCC partnership with consumer research specialists Kantar Worldpanel.

“We have begun a twelve month detailed analysis seeking further new opportunities; in this period we will accumulate pertinent consumer data and collaborate with the entire supply chain, working with processors and seek retail expertise and marketing and promotion,” said Mr. Howells.