HCC’s new board of directors set ‘bold direction’

The newly appointed board of directors for Wales’ red meat levy board have met for the first time. 

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) directors met at the organisations headquarters in Aberystwyth, where they decided to start immediately to develop strategic plans for the industry post-Brexit.

The 10 new directors were appointed following a public appointments process led by the Welsh government, with all board members coming from backgrounds in agriculture, processing, food marketing and retail. They are: Kevin Roberts, a former director general of the National Farmers’ Union and the Meat and Livestock Commission, who will be the interim chair; Barrie Jones, a sheep farmer and group lamb commercial manager at Dunbia; food consultant Catherine Smith; farmer Claire Louise Williams; Gareth Wynn Davies, head of agriculture at Wynnstay Group and chairperson of Celtic Pride; founder of Hwylus Cyf and farmer Helen Howells; Huw Davies, a farmer and former chair of the Ruminants Standing Committee of the Great Britain Farm Animal Welfare Committee; Illtud Dunsford, a farmer, agri-food consultant and owner of Charcutier Ltd; John T Davies, a farmer and chairman of the board of directors of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society; IT consultant and project manager Ogwen Williams; and Rachael Madeley Davies, a farmer and food retailer with specific experience in food marketing, especially red meat.

Looking forward, the team aims to ensure the stability of Welsh red meat following on from the EU referendum fallout. “Our red meat industry, based around iconic brands such as Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, which are known all over the world, is facing a period of unprecedented change,” explained Roberts.

“Brexit, as well as fierce competition and changing consumer demands in the food industry, means that as a board of directors we have to set to work immediately on setting a bold direction for the next few years.”

He said that, looking outside of the European Union, there were opportunities to ensure that agriculture and food production remained profitable and resilient. “But in the short term there are certainly challenges, not least the need to ensure continued trade with our mature European markets, and continuing to work to gain access to other countries such as the USA, Saudi Arabia and China,” he said.

“Success in growing exports brings a huge benefit in terms of supporting farmgate prices and the processing sector here in Wales. However, our strategies must also look at the full remit of HCC’s activity: UK promotion, driving efficient and sustainable production, collating market intelligence, and work in the fields of education, health and public procurement.”

It was highlighted that while HCC has a busy year of activity planned, the new board will bring fresh ideas to work alongside chief executive Gwyn Howells and his team.

Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, added: “There is no doubt Brexit will present our red meat industry with significant challenges as over 90% of Welsh red meat exports currently go the European Union. The whole industry must now come together in an effort to consolidate existing markets ahead of our leaving the EU and also seize the opportunity to proactively identify potential new customers beyond the EU.

“It is crucial, therefore, we have a strong and dynamic team to take this hugely important work forward. Hybu Cig Cymru has a pivotal role in promoting Welsh red meat to potential new customers and will be highly influential as we seek to develop distinctively Welsh agricultural policies.

“I look forward to working closely with the new board. I am confident it has the right blend of know-how and experience in a diverse range of fields. I am sure the new board will hit the ground running and, together, we will find the right solutions to ensure a profitable and resilient future for Wales’ iconic red meat industry.”

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