Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) said that the full-year export statistics for 2019, published by HMRC, showed that trade in lamb increased to a wide variety of countries, both in Europe and beyond. The largest growth in exports was to two markets which HCC has targeted for promotion of PGI Welsh Lamb – Germany and the Middle East.
It said that a comparison of the volume of sheepmeat exports from the UK in 2018 and 2019 showed a 27% increase in sales to Germany to over 19,000 tonnes, and a 319% jump in trade with the Middle East – including Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan – to nearly 2,000 tonnes.
HCC said that as Wales is home to almost a third of the British lamb flock, it is estimated that exports of lamb to Germany were worth £20m to farmers and processors in Wales, while the value of trade with the newer Middle Eastern markets rose to around £2.5m.
HCC’s chief executive Gwyn Howells said that the figures reflected a favourable exchange rate, together with strategic market development work by HCC supported by the Welsh Government’s £1.5m Enhanced Export Programme. This programme is designed to help the industry to maintain exports through the period of Brexit uncertainty.
“A comparatively weak pound has certainly helped to make our exports competitive, however these two markets are ones which HCC has identified and invested in during recent times, latterly with the help of the Welsh Government’s Enhanced Export Programme and overseas staff,” Howells said.
“Germany has a huge foodservice and catering sector. Our work here has concentrated on working with Welsh exporters to secure listings for PGI Welsh Lamb with foodservice distributors and joint promotions at trade events and conferences. In the Middle East, our task has been to grow beyond our established foothold in the retail market in the UAE, through making new contacts at the annual Gulfood show in February and trade development missions.”
Welsh minister for environment, energy and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “This is great news for the sector. Germany continues to be a key market for Welsh lamb and the Middle East is a growing market for the product, with Welsh lamb now available in two major supermarkets in Qatar. Our trade missions, including Gulfood, have raised the profile of Welsh meat products abroad and I look forward to further export success in future as the Wales food brand goes from strength to strength.”