Welsh Lamb looks to tap into Middle Eastern promise

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is spearheading a renewed promotional drive for Welsh Lamb in the Middle East.

HCC will lead a delegation of Wales’s leading meat processors to the Gulfood trade exhibition from February 26 to meet retailers, food importers and restaurateurs. A Welsh Lamb cooking demonstration will be held at a St. David’s Day reception at the British Embassy in Dubai, and HCC will also be part of a Welsh Government-led trade mission to explore future opportunities in Saudi Arabia in March.

“HCC has worked with a leading retailer to promote PGI Welsh Lamb in supermarkets in the UAE for some time, but opportunities are growing in the whole region,” said HCC’s Marketing Manager Rhys Llywelyn. “We’re also seeing Welsh Lamb sales into the food service sector in Dubai, where many big-name British chefs have been opening restaurants.”

“To grow Welsh red meat sales in the Gulf region, HCC working with Welsh Government and producers to mount a new export push – not only meeting potential customers at Dubai’s Gulfood exhibition, but also working to gain access to the large Saudi market and working with chefs to promote Welsh produce at a major event at the British Embassy on March 1.”

Since Welsh Lamb first gained access to the UAE in 2006, access for UK red meat exports have been secured to Qatar, and most recently Kuwait. Diplomatic work continues in order to open the Saudi market.

Many countries in the Gulf region have comparatively high per capita meat consumption (over 10% of the total diet) with lamb being a very popular ingredient in local cuisine. The countries also rely heavily on imports to meet their red meat needs, with tourism helping to drive increased demand for premium foods in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other growing cities.

“These are promising markets for long-term growth,” added Rhys Llywelyn. “Our aim is to grow the profile of Welsh Lamb in the UAE, and look at brand new markets in the rest of the region for a variety of different lamb cuts and carcase weights.

“There are challenges in terms of understanding import requirements and procedures, and also to build relationships with suppliers and retailers. But there is an opportunity to promote our premium-quality PGI Welsh Lamb, and we look forward, together with the Welsh Government, to helping our processors to build these markets.”