The outlook for food production has “never been brighter”, despite concerns in the UK over the economic downturn, says Mike Peterson, chair of New Zealand Meat and Wool.

Speaking at the Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) annual conference, Mr Peterson warned people in the UK were “talking themselves into a recession” which could be self-fulfilling.

While the recession posed challenges, there were opportunities available to producers, he told delegates.

The underlying indicators for food production were going in the right direction, once the credit crunch had worked its way through, he said.

“If you looked even six months ago at the agricultural industry, the outlook for food has never been brighter.

“Yes, there is economic recession, but the fundamentals of the agricultural sector in are absolutely strong and will continue to remain strong for the foreseeable future.”

He said food was a “new fashion” and predicted more money would be made in food production than in any other industry in the next 10 years.

Hybu Cig Cymru chairman Rees Roberts said he hoped government would respond as quickly to an future food supply issues as it had with the financial sector.

While there had been an upsurge in the fortunes of the Welsh sheep industry, with 82,000 tonnes of sheep meat exported this year, he warned the delegates there was no room for complacency.

The shrinking Welsh ewe flock, down 18% to 4.5 million between 1995 an 2007, could continue to decline, he added.