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Welsh lamb and beef industry hopes for Japanese success in 2019

Welsh lamb and beef industry hopes for Japanese success in 2019

It’s now less than 200 days until the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan. But this week another Welsh team is aiming to make an early impact in the country, as a delegation of red meat exporters head to the important Foodex trade fair in Tokyo, which is expected to attract 85,000 visitors.

The country had been closed to British lamb and beef companies for many years due to Japanese Government import restrictions. However the ban was lifted earlier this year, paving the way for Wales’s iconic exports – PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef – to aim to achieve a foothold in the market.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Market Development Manager, Rhys Llywelyn, will be part of the delegation, and he explained that the meat industry could take advantage of the increased profile that the Rugby World Cup will give Wales.

“The opening of the Japanese market comes at a good time in so many ways,” he said. “Obviously, Brexit means we have to redouble efforts with the help of Welsh Government’s Enhanced Export Programme to find emerging export destinations.

“But also the World Cup in Japan gives us a great platform this year to showcase our products, with the message that Welsh red meat is high in protein and vitamins and ideal for an active lifestyle,” he said.

“We’ve worked closely with rugby stars to promote our produce in the past, with Dan Lydiate and Elinor Snowsill featuring in PGI Welsh Beef marketing. And of course Shane Williams – who enjoys a high profile in Japan after playing for Mitsubishi Dynaboars for two years – was the face of a recent PGI Welsh Lamb campaign,” added Rhys.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “I am pleased that Welsh lamb and beef can now be exported to the Japanese market. We want to showcase our food and drink on the global stage, and this trade fair can be the first stage in showing why our produce is world renowned for its quality. This event will be followed up by a trade development visit for food and drink companies in June this year.”

She added, ““Brexit is now less than a month away and it is more important than ever that we promote the Welsh brand as much as possible. With the World Cup approaching later this year we want to ensure it’s not just the Welsh rugby team leaving an indelible mark in the Far East in 2019.”

Lamb is enjoying a renaissance in Japan with consumption growing steadily over the past three years. In major cities, restaurants have recently opened specialising in the distinctive ‘Jingisukan’ grilled lamb or mutton dish.

Hopes are high that there could be opportunities for Welsh Beef in the market too, with Japanese consumers placing a premium on some cuts which are in less demand in Britain and Europe.

“While no-one expects Japan to become a huge market for us overnight, it’s certainly one which is worth exploring for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef,” said Rhys Llywelyn. “HCC and Welsh exporters are looking forward to making new contacts and serving up samples for prospective buyers at the Foodex show, and then building on that during 2019.”

HCC’s trade stand at Foodex Japan, as well as some other international trade shows and activities, is funded by the £2 million fund of AHDB red meat levies ring-fenced for collaborative projects which is managed by the three GB meat levy bodies – AHDB, HCC and QMS.

The ring-fenced fund is an interim arrangement while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at point of slaughter in England, for animals which have been reared in Scotland or Wales.

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