The Welsh red meat industry is determined to continue exporting to the European market, whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations, says Kevin Roberts, Chair of HCC (Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales).
Addressing an audience of Welsh food producers, European importers and policy-makers at Anuga in Cologne, Mr Roberts (pictured above) described the prospect of a no-deal split between the UK and EU as an ‘existential threat’ to the future of the Welsh industry.
He pledged, however, that HCC would work with the Welsh Government, farmers and processors to do all it could to weather the storm.
“The Welsh red meat industry, with its iconic PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef brands, is a flagship of a growing and dynamic Welsh food and drink sector,” he said. “But it cannot be overstated how serious a risk a chaotic Brexit would pose to our industry.
“Brexit uncertainty is already contributing to unstable beef prices, and all the analysis shows that the sheep sector is highly exposed to no-deal.”
Mr Roberts hailed the success of work to open up and establish trade in new markets, with HCC using funding from the Welsh Government’s Enhanced Export Programme, and working alongside other partners in the UK Export Certification Partnership.
“Here at Anuga, two years ago, the Minister announced additional funding for HCC to help keep current customers and expand into new markets,” he said. “We’re proud of what has been achieved. Access agreements have been secured with Japan and several countries in the Middle East, with significant progress too with China and India. New trade is being done right now, with a promotional launch in a major Japanese retailer this week to take advantage of Wales’s profile at the Rugby World Cup.
“Despite this productive work, our thriving exports which underpin the price that our farmers receive for producing high-quality, sustainable beef and lamb, is highly dependent on our European customers. This trade must continue.
“HCC can’t solve this political crisis of the UK’s own making, but we will do all we can to help our industry through it, with the help of our valued partners in Europe.”