Positive outlook for Welsh meat

A record year for exports and increased returns for farmers point to a positive outlook for the Welsh meat sector, according to the chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Rees Roberts, speaking at the Royal Welsh Show today (Monday), also congratulated teachers for their work in promoting food education through the curriculum, but called on schools to dedicate more time for lessons.

Speaking to an audience of more than 100 people at HCC’s stand on the showground, Roberts said the Welsh red meat sector had enjoyed a record year for exports in 2009.

Overseas sales of Welsh Lamb and Beef accounted for £140m out of total sales of more than £400m, showing there was significant demand for Welsh products both at home and abroad.

“But it’s not only in the sales market where you can find good news,” he added. “HCC is today releasing new figures that show there has been a big increase in the number of Welsh farmers who are covering the cost of lamb production.

“While some farmers are still unable to cover their costs, our new report shows that the average Welsh farm is now at least breaking even. It also shows that farms that can keep costs down are now turning in a steady profit.

“Of course it’s important not to be complacent. Market prices have improved over the past year, helping most farmers cover their costs.

“But expenses are continuing to rise and, as an organisation, we must encourage all farmers to examine their cost base closely and regularly to ensure that they are working as efficiently as possible to guarantee the longevity of their business.”

Roberts said that if the red meat sector was to have a long-term future, it needed to look after the needs of its customers – both present and future.

“That is why HCC is investing so much time and effort into education. Last week we launched Cool2Cook 2, the follow-up to our first cookbook for children. The original publication was an enormous success – to date 50,000 copies have been distributed to children mainly in Wales, but also to schools who have requested it across the border in England. I am sure that the new book will be just as popular.

“I believe that education is the key to our future. As a society we have rightly learned of the dangers of obesity and the need for a balanced diet.

“HCC will continue to put our money where our children’s mouths are by providing resources to help teachers in their essential day-to-day work.”

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