Closing in on UAE deal

Welsh lamb will be soon be on sale in the United Arab Emirates after a push by HCC - Meat Promotion Wales in Dubai last week saw importers meet with potential customers.

Two years of negotiations and planning have seen the opening of the market, a deal that Carwyn Jones, Welsh Assembly minister for environment, planning and countryside, was instrumental in. The HCC event in Dubai brought together importers, retailers, restauranteurs and government officials from the UAE, in a "launch" in order to promote Welsh lamb and try to secure as many deals as possible for Welsh suppliers. He said: "This launch marks the culmination of months of hard work and negotiations by all concerned to help make top-quality Welsh lamb available in the United Arab Emirates.

"Residents and visitors will now be able to have a taste of Wales in the many superb restaurants here. We hope this paves the way for the export of more excellent Welsh products to this part of the world."

Gywn Howells, chief executive of HCC, spent the week in Dubai, where 75% of lamb is imported: "It is very, very early days but the total market is worth $50m so if we get a small share of that we will be pleased. Our aim over the next three years is to underpin Welsh lamb into the market."

Most of Dubai's lamb comes from Australia and New Zealand, but between September and December less is available. This is the gap HCC would like to see Welsh suppliers filling.

Howells said: "The removal of import restrictions and the acceptance of Halal certification has now opened the door for Wales to establish itself as the single, premium fresh lamb supplier to the UAE from the northern hemisphere."

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