Welsh red meat ‘needs to embrace premium’

The Welsh red meat industry has been urged to focus on the premium sector in order to maintain UK sales.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Builth Wells, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Kevin Roberts, said that Welsh red meat can thrive in the UK market by moving with the times and aiming at premium sectors.

“Traditional roasts are still important, but we’ve got to move with the times,” he said.

“HCC’s current Welsh Beef campaign is emphasising red meat as a natural and convenient source of protein for healthy lifestyles, while we’re targeting younger consumers with a new online recipe selector, available on smartphones, to give shoppers ideas on which cuts of Welsh Lamb to choose while on the move.”

He said that, if the right premium sectors were targeted, branded Welsh meat could thrive in difficult circumstances.

“Figures published last year showed that UK-wide spending on lamb in supermarkets fell by almost 2% in a 12-month period, while spending on branded Welsh Lamb was up by 5.6%,” said Roberts. “Welsh meat can outperform the market, and buck trends in tough times, due to the brands’ reputation for quality and sustainability.”

He said that selling high-value branded cuts offered the prospect of better returns for farmers than targeting low-value sectors such as fast food and public procurement, and praised supermarkets and wholesalers which had recently committed to increased home sourcing.

Roberts explained that a key theme of the Winter Fair was consolidating the position of PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef in the home market, as part of contingency planning for the uncertainty of trade arrangements after Brexit. He warned that all options in the UK market would need to be considered if trade with the EU was disrupted in 2019, particularly for the sheep industry.

“We’re delighted to have secured £1.5 million in funding from Welsh Government to accelerate the work of developing new export markets,” he said. “But if we face a sudden loss of EU trade in 2019, there’s no way that can be made up overnight with exports to other countries.

“An oversupply of lamb in the domestic market will require radical measures, which will need all parts of the supply chain – from farmers to UK retailers – to work closely together.”

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