Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) welcomed the growth but said access to the EU must continue post-Brexit.
“The HMRC statistics show that, aside from some growth in emerging markets such as Hong Kong, the vast majority of the increased exports in 2017 have come in EU countries such as France and Belgium, where the Welsh Lamb brand is well-known and respected,” said Kevin Roberts, chairman of HCC.
“HCC stands ready to work with the industry to exploit new opportunities in the USA and elsewhere if and when long-running diplomatic negotiations to open those markets come to fruition. But at present well over 90% of our exports are to the EU. These figures represent a success story, but Welsh farmers need fair access to EU markets in order to maintain this momentum after Brexit in March 2019.”
He commented that a key market was Germany, which saw a 29% growth in sales, partially attributed to promotional campaign by HCC highlighting PGI Welsh Lamb.
John Richards, HCC industry development and relations manager, told Global Meat News that exports of cuts not typically sold in the UK was helping carcase balance.
“Exports are extremely important for Welsh Lamb in terms of carcase balance. While the domestic market is driven by demand for lamb legs, other cuts find greater favour in various markets abroad including breast, shoulder, neck and offal. A balance of home and overseas markets – both European destinations and newer markets such as Hong Kong – is thus vital for the Welsh Lamb industry to achieve the maximum value possible for the carcase.”
Meanwhile, imports of lamb into the UK, primarily from New Zealand, dropped by 15% compared to the same period last year.
“These figures are undoubtedly good news for the Welsh lamb industry,” added Roberts. “The decline in imports from New Zealand is welcome, showing that UK retailers are responding to their consumers’ demand for high-quality home-produced meat.”