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Welsh Farmers Told to Promote Grass-Based Sheep Meat

13 November 2015

WALES, UK - Delegates at a recent NFU Cymru meeting were told that grass-based produce could be promoted more, and that Welsh lamb quality should be emphasised to consumers.

“New Zealand and Australia have over 30 per cent of the global lamb trade, with the UK only contributing 9.2 per cent,” Dr Eleri Price told those present at the recent Glamorgan NFU Cymru county meeting.

Dr Price visited Australia and New Zealand in January this year, to study ‘Genetic selection for lamb meat yield and quality’.

Dr Price continued: “Seeing the vast areas of arid land in Australia made me appreciate how fortunate we are in Wales to be able to grow grass efficiently and we should promote our grass based produce more.”

Members present picked up on the fact that in Australia it would appear that consumers were driven by eating quality and taste. But in the UK, consumers are price-driven and that puts pressure on the price farmers receive for their home grown products.

Dr Price continued: “Similar to Wales, Australia and New Zealand farmers are mainly focussed on breeding for meat yield, but they also have a new focus on meat quality. Perhaps this is the way forward for the Welsh lamb industry, where an improved grading system could be implemented.

“Or increased data flow from the farm (by recording flock performance) and better utilisation of carcass information could help farmers with breeding decisions to aid the improvement of lamb meat eating quality.

“There are many different opportunities to supply and promote sustainable, quality lamb. As an industry we have gone down the ‘quality’ route with lamb, but we need to be able to prove our meat quality in a global market. This could help push Welsh lamb at the forefront of consumer decisions and help us to adapt to future market needs.”

NFU Cymru Glamorgan Chairman, Abi Reader said, “I would like to thank Dr Eleri Price for speaking at this meeting. From the event NFU Cymru hosted in Cardiff this summer, it was clear that consumers enjoyed Welsh lamb, milk and cheese.

"More needs to be done in terms of retailers giving Welsh produce more prominent shelf space and ensuring Welsh produce is available throughout the year. New Zealand exports 95 per cent of sheep meat, with Australia and New Zealand dominating the global trade.

"There must be some scope to access new export markets and increase demand at home by the development of new innovative products. We need to explore new avenues as a matter of urgency.”

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