Welsh Cambrian Mountains Lamb PDO request welcomed by farming industry

Cambrian Mountains Lamb could soon be benefiting from Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, a move that has been well-received by the industry. 

This comes after the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) applied to the European Union for the product to be listed in its exclusive scheme. It will only be awarded with the mark if the EU decides it has a reputation, characteristics or qualities that are a result of the area it’s associated with. Defra is the UK Competent Authority for the EU for the Protected Food Names (PFN) Schemes.

“National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Cymru supports any initiative that can give Welsh producers a unique selling point or an advantage in the market,” a spokesperson for the union told Meat Trades Journal.

“The PGI brand is synonymous with quality and this accreditation would be a boost to lamb producers in the Cambrian Mountains.”

The development has also been greeted by the National Sheep Association (NSA) with open arms. "NSA welcomes any opportunity to add value to lamb, differentiate it and tell the story behind its production," commented Joanne Briggs, NSA communications manager.

"We have seen the success of products with existing PFN status and wish Cambrian Mountain Lamb well in emulating this. Whilse NSA wants both PGI and PDO labelling to continue in the UK once we leave the EU, the future is unclear at this time. We feel it makes sense to strengthen those brands as much as possible in the meantime, so they are valued and recognised by consumers, giving them a better chance of surviving in a post-Brexit world."

According to Defra, all Cambrian Mountains Lamb is produced on Farm Assured farms, or areas that meet similar standards. The lamb must be born, reared and slaughtered within the designated Cambrian Mountains area of Mid-Wales.

The lamb is a natural seasonal product that is available from late June until January, and must be produced exclusively from ewes that are a minimum of 80% Welsh Mountain, or from other traditional Welsh native hill breeds. They can be kept as pure native breeds, or can be crossed with terminal sire breeds. This results in a small lamb with carcase weights averaging 15kg – with 10kg as a minimum weight and 18kg as the maximum.

“Cambrian Mountains Lamb is a slowly matured, extensively reared lamb taking around 16-plus weeks for it to be fully developed for the market,” explained Defra in its application form for PDO status.

“Its natural diet and slowness of growth are key to Cambrian Mountains Lamb’s unique taste, which produces a carcase that has got great conformation for succulent, tender, juicy meat with a depth of flavour which is both delicate and sweet.

“Cambrian Mountains Lamb releases a good aroma when carved. The long summer grazing on the Cambrian Mountains also leads to Cambrian Mountains Lamb being a naturally fit animal, achieving the optimum balance of tasty lean meat to fat.”

Although the lamb is primarily sold to butchers and supermarkets in carcase form, it can also be sold as primal cuts of lamb when appropriate.

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