Exports could be key to Welsh red meat industry success, says levy board

The Welsh red meat industry has been advised to eye-up export opportunities, according to chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Kevin Roberts. 

Speaking to delegates at HCC’s annual conference, he said exports could assist in delivering a prosperous future for the industry. However, he warned that this would only manifest if the “bump in the road” that is Brexit can be successfully negotiated. 

“Around the globe, there is substantial growth in meat consumption by an emerging middle class,” he said. “If our governments can secure access to those markets, the opportunity is there. There are premium markets for foods that can demonstrate their quality and provenance – things that Welsh red meat has in spades. 

“Developing existing and new export markets, and capitalising on premium high-value segments, will help us get better returns for farmers and processors. Evidence shows that the farmgate price increases as exports expand, and exports also allow us to find better markets for offals, skins and hides.”

Despite this positive outlook, the outcome of Brexit will have an impact on the industry, particularly the lamb sector, he noted.

“All the independent analysis suggests that our sheep sector would be very exposed to WTO [World Trade Organization] tariffs of over 40%,” added Roberts. “Seasonality and carcase balance mean it’s utterly unrealistic to fully replace lamb exports with increased business in the UK market, even if imports were curtailed.

“We are developing ambitious plans to develop the industry through to 2025, but as we are all aware, there is a potential bump in the road.”

HCC’s annual conference is taking place today, Thursday 9 November, at the Vale Hotel near Cardiff and is being attended by farmers, processors and policy-makers who influence the sector.

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