January 10, 2014
A top level delegation from Wales is visiting the United States this week with the aim of opening up the American market to Welsh lamb.
If successful, Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), the Wales-based meat promotion agency that organized the six-day mission, believes the outcome could lead to exports of around 3,100 tons of Welsh lamb going to the United States every year - worth £20 million to the Welsh economy.
"Our research indicates that there is a demand for high quality lamb among the more affluent sectors of American society who are looking for alternatives to other sources of protein such as chicken or fish," said Lura Dodds, HCC's market development manager.
"There is a clear demand for top quality lamb in the United State that cannot be fully met by the nation's farmers and Welsh lamb, with its Protected Geographical Indication status, fits the bill perfectly for the discerning US consumer."
The mission follows extensive research into the U.S. market and the successful experience of exporting Welsh lamb to Canada, which began in 2011.
"Our aim is not to compete with American farmers, but to complement their efforts and help boost demand among the American public for premium quality lamb," said Dodds.
"If we can gain a 5 percent share of lamb imports - which are primarily met by New Zealand and Australia - that would currently be worth £20 million a year to Wales."
HCC Chief Executive Gwyn Howells said a series of meetings would be held with officials working in all sections of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C.
"Following the U.S. decision to allow beef imports from the United Kingdom, we feel it's vital that permission is given by the USDA to allow Welsh lamb into the country," he added.
Reprinted in part from Farmers Guardian