The meat industry can enjoy the benefits of global trading post-Brexit, but will the challenge of regulating farming standards risk undermining the high food quality that many have been used to? The chair of Hybu Cig Cymru says that “quality” should be kept as the watchword for Wales.
During a recent webinar discussion at The Virtual Royal Welsh Show 2021, Catherine Smith, the Chair of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, made the case that new trade policy needs to be sensitive to sourcing food as locally and sustainably as possible, ensuring the very highest standards to consumers with little disruption to current quality.
Business News Wales spoke with Catherine to find out what Hybu Cig Cymru consider to be some of the most concerning factors that could affect food quality in Wales, whether enough was being done in terms of policy and process to maintain the current standards, and most importantly, what Wales needs to do in order to position itself as a trusted source of global export in quality food with exemplary farming standards.
“Our worry is that in the [Government’s] haste to strike trade deals, that we strike trade deals with other countries that perhaps do not produce to our same standards, or indeed produce to standards that in this country would not be legal and would not be permitted under regulation. That’s a real concern.”
“What we do not want to see is our livestock production and our Welsh family farms being put under severe economic pressure because product is coming into this country that is produced to a lesser standard and perhaps can undercut them on price, and therefore actually does nothing for supporting the sustainability of our nation – because we are bringing in products with a higher carbon footprint. It’s all about fairness, it’s all about fair trade, and it’s all about maintaining the standards that we hold so dear.”
So how can Wales take advantage and position itself as a trusted source of high-quality produce?
“We know that our consumers want to buy food that supports farmers, we know that they want to reduce food miles and we know that they want to buy food produce that supports sustainability. It is hugely important and we as an industry have a role to play, and we can do that whilst also still producing exemplary quality Welsh beef and lamb.”
“There are huge opportunities for Welsh lamb in particular, since 2018 exports have grown by over 500% for the Middle East, so we know that there is more that we can do there.”