The chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Kevin Roberts, has used an address to the world’s largest food tradeshow to emphasise the Welsh red meat industry’s determination to continue exporting to the European market, whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations.
Addressing an audience of Welsh food producers, European importers and policy-makers at Anuga in Cologne, Mr Roberts described the prospect of a No-Deal split between the UK and EU as an ‘existential threat’ to the future of the Welsh industry. But he pledged that HCC would work with the Welsh Government, farmers and processors to do all it could to weather the storm.
He said, “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. But it cannot be overstated how serious a risk a chaotic Brexit would pose to our industry.”
“A political problem of the UK’s own making is an existential threat of a kind we haven’t seen for a generation, with our farmers in the front line,” said Roberts. “Brexit uncertainty is already contributing to unstable beef prices, and all the analysis shows that the sheep sector is highly exposed to No-Deal.”
He added, “If we do face tariffs in the short term, the industry may absorb those costs, and keep trade flowing.”
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.”
However he warned: “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.”