Welsh red meat sector to ‘intensify’ export quest

Welsh meat firms are courting customers in Hong Kong, Canada, Europe and the Middle East among others as the country's export push builds momentum.

In the shadow of Brexit and the looming general election, Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) said May was a vital month for it to “nurture relationships” with existing customers and develop new ones.

Despite the uncertain political climate, HCC said it was looking forward to promoting premium PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef to existing international customers and searching for new global business.

According to the levy board, an estimated one-third of Welsh Lamb meat products is exported every year, contributing over £100 million (m) to the Welsh economy. Welsh Beef exports, on the other hand, are worth in excess of £50m. Over 90% of Wales’ export trade is with the EU.

In an effort to develop international relations, HCC is meeting this week with a range of clients across Europe and the Middle East at Tutto Food in Milan, with Welsh meat processors also in attendance at the SIAL Toronto fair in Canada. In addition, Welsh Lamb will be showcased at the Hofex exhibition in Hong Kong where HCC Scholarship winner Peter Rushforth of Swans Farm Shop will perform butchery demonstrations. Contestants at a cookery competition at the show will be tasked with creating dishes using PGI Welsh Lamb.

Later in the month, a selection of overseas agents and marketers will visit Welsh farms to experience first-hand the high standards of animal production and sustainability.

“May is an exceptionally busy month for HCC,” said the organisation’s chief executive Gwyn Howells. “Due to the uncertainty over the future terms of trade after 2019, it’s more vital than ever that we both nurture relationships with our existing European customers and intensify our work to open up new markets.”

“At Tutto Food, HCC and Welsh meat processors have a packed schedule of meetings with European retailers and foodservice companies who are proud to stock Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, to reassure them of our commitment to grow our brands in these established markets. But at the same time, it’s important to showcase our products and attract business in territories such as Hong Kong and Canada, which have potential for increased trade.”

HCC was using the opportunities presented in May to explore other areas of growth over the next two years. Howells said: “Canada offers Wales a way to establish contacts for the important US market, where work to gain access for Welsh Lamb has been ongoing for many years and may finally come to fruition to the next 12 months. We have similar hopes for gaining market access to Saudi Arabia; it’s encouraging that Saudi retailers have decided to come to Milan to sample Welsh produce and discuss the potential for future trade with us.”

HCC’s interim chairman Kevin Roberts added that increasing the value of exports has positive implications on the prices for farmers and processors at home. “It’s vital that we keep our options open – both maintaining our European markets and continuing to work in new territories,” he said. “Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef are iconic premium products which reinforce Wales’ reputation for quality across the globe.”

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