Welsh meat exports have risen in volume by 10% over the past 12 months and awareness of Welsh red meat has also increased in targeted areas of England.

The achievements are two of the milestones singled out by Hybu Cig Cymru and the Welsh Assembly government to show that they are on target with the implementation of their strategic action plan for the red meat sector.

The action plan was launched by rural affairs minister Elin Jones in 2009. Its vision is to ensure a profitable, efficient, sustainable and innovative Welsh red meat industry.

The first annual monitoring review of the plan has now been published which shows that work has either been completed or progressing well on most of its aims.

Ms Jones said: “This is an important milestone in the delivery of the action plan for the red meat industry.It is heartening to see our continuing strategies and support for the red meat sector, delivering results in developing the industry and increasing awareness of our products.

HCC chairman Rees Roberts added: “Our strategic plan is a living document, constantly being updated to meet the changing needs of the industry in Wales.

“I am pleased with the progress we have made so far, and will continue to monitor the plan on an annual basis to ensure that we are delivering our policies effectively for everyone working in the Welsh red meat sector.”

Among the targets achieved in the first year of the three year strategic plan are:

• Welsh red meat exports increased by 10 per cent in volume;
• Awareness of Welsh red meat increased by 32 per cent within targeted TV regions in England;
• More than 500 young farmers have taken part in Farming Connect red meat development programme open days, discussion group meetings and events;
• A report on the market opportunities for skin-on sheep meat – smokies – being completed with a recommendation that European legislation is changed to make their production legal;
• A network of demonstration farms, development farms and discussion groups maintained by HCC to disseminate best practice information to farmers;
• Foreign study tours organised for groups of farmers and scholarships awarded to examine farming practices abroad to share and adopt best practice with colleagues in Wales;
• Twenty beef and lamb slaughter courses for producers delivered by HCC at abattoirs and livestock markets
• A portfolio of 12 research and development projects focussed on supporting the Welsh red meat industry maintained by HCC.

The full annual monitoring report for the Strategic Action Plan can be found on HCC’s website.