Staff and patients in the majority of Welsh hospitals are eating locally produced Welsh beef following a new supply deal with Welsh NHS Trusts. Carwyn Jones, AM and Minister for the Environment, Planning and the Countryside, officially launched Welsh

Beef into Mid and South Wales NHS Trusts last year.

This agreement means the three Trust regions - North, Mid and South Wales - will purchase £750,000 worth of Welsh beef each year until 2007. The deal for Mid and South Wales covers hospitals as far West as Haverfordwest, Carmarthen and Aberystwyth across to Swansea, Gwent and Powys.

Mr Jones said: "This deal is great news for the industry and the environment. It shows how the whole economy can benefit from partnership working and offers wider environmental benefits through the reduction in food miles. The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to supporting and developing public sector food procurement throughout Wales. This is why I have made available more money to be targeted at this very important sector."

Welsh Health Supplies, the central contracting and materials management provider for the NHS, has been working in conjunction with catering managers in Mid and South Wales, HCC and the current contracted meat suppliers to remodel the meat supply chain towards securing regular and local supply.

Gwyn Howells, HCC Chief Executive said: "This is great news for the industry and for Hybu Cig Cymru and the Welsh Assembly Government's work to encourage more local buying of red meat by public sector procurers. A large proportion of Welsh hospitals are now serving Welsh beef and it is highly significant that such a large publicly funded organisation will buy locally all year round." He added: "Hybu Cig Cymru, in conjunction with Welsh Health Supplies, are currently in discussion with Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust - which have their own supply arrangements - to support their progression to a Welsh supply. We are optimistic of creating an all-Wales deal in the not too distant future."

June Scott, Contracts Manager for Welsh Health Supplies said: "I am delighted that following the huge success of the launch of Welsh Beef into hospitals in North Wales we have been able to roll out the project into South and Mid Wales. Welsh Health Supplies is committed to supporting the Assembly's sustainable development agenda and this project will make a significant contribution to the local economy whilst at the same time providing a high quality nutritious product to patients and staff alike."

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