Welsh meat exports: Saudi Arabia a crucial country

Saudi Arabia is “a crucial country” for exports of Welsh meat, according to Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). 

Speaking to Meat Trades Journal at the Sial trade show in Paris, which ran from 16-20 October, Alex James, export market development executive at HCC, said: “Saudi Arabia will be a crucial country for us.

“It is a traditional consumer of lamb, with great variety from high-end to low-end products and a massive population of meat eaters, so there are going to be some opportunities there.”

Fifth quarter

Saudi Arabian consumers use fifth-quarter meat products, such as skin and offal, so the market offers the potential for Welsh producers to use the whole carcase, said James.

HCC export market development executive Deanna Leven said: “We have done some market research into Saudi Arabia to see what the opportunities are and we will work with levy bodies to ensure we are getting market access resolved.

“At the last meeting we had, we submitted the questionnaire required to take us to the next step.”

China

Elsewhere, HCC is making headway on supplying Welsh beef to China, although it will be slow progress and the organisation wants to press ahead with lamb at the same time, said Leven. “They [China] would prefer to try to push on with beef first, so hopefully that’s a learning experience so it’s easier to gain access for lamb.”

Having Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Welsh Lamb is a major export asset, so there were concerns over what might happen to that in the wake of the Brexit vote, she said.

However, she added: “You don’t have to be in Europe to have PGI status.”

UK PGI scheme

MTJ revealed in July that Liz Truss, environment secretary before current incumbent Andrea Leadsom, was considering the merits of introducing a UK PGI scheme.

Answering a question in the House of Commons, Truss said the fate of PGIs and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) labels post-Brexit was “extremely important”.

“It’s one of the issues we’re working on at the moment, but I’d like to see a British protected food name status that we develop in the future,” she said.

The development of a UK equivalent to the EU PGI marque was a possibility, she said. “We would want to be heavily involved in discussions to develop it. It needs to be an equivalent system that’s recognised by the EU.”

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