A Wales-wide farmer delegation has given its full backing to Hybu Cig Cymru’s contingency marketing initiative aimed at boosting sales of Welsh Lamb in the face of the on-going price pressure.
The group met HCC officials at an Aberystwyth meeting called to provide details of a set of retail measures targeted at improving short and longer-term sustainability for the Welsh red meat supply chain and clearly differentiating on-shelf Welsh Lamb from competitors’ products.
The promotional agency has introduced the contingency measures following UK lamb prices being hit by exchange rate volatility and market over supply which have led to falls of up to 20 per cent year-on-year.
“We ran through, in some detail, the wide-range of across-media and in-store marketing measures we have brought in since early July to support farmers and processors during this turbulent market period,” said HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells.
“The whole of the red meat supply chain shares farmer concerns about ensuring the sustainability, future growth and profitability of the industry.
“Cheap imports are an easy option for some retailers but they are severely undermining the delicate supply chain infrastructure that is essential to the continued production of the world’s leading premium lamb brand.”
He said the farmer delegation backed HCC’s long-standing crusade and support measures to differentiate on-shelf between premium Welsh Lamb and cheaper imports.
Several external factors had combined in recent months to impact negatively on lamb prices.
“At present we have a strong pound and a weak Euro and that means all British products, including Welsh Lamb, are much more expensive to buy within the Eurozone,” said Mr Howells.
“Outside Europe the strong pound has made New Zealand lamb much cheaper. Exports of the so-called ‘fifth quarter’ - the category that includes skins -- have also struggled because of a downturn in demand from Asia.
“In addition to the damage caused by exchange rates, UK farmers experienced good, early lambing season weather conditions that resulted in 1 in 12 extra lambs coming on to the market in May and June,” added Mr Howells.
“It is crucial the industry stands together to build a strong, sustainable future for the industry across Wales and HCC will take forward to the retail industry the firm but positive stance that everybody gains from investing in local suppliers - and that means fewer imports and more Welsh Lamb on shelves with a very clear labelling policy.”