Paul Edwards, managing director of Dunbia Meat’s abattoir at Llanybyther in Carmarthenshire, warned at the Royal Welsh Show that the economic turndown signalled turbulent times ahead in the meat market.

“The consumer is becoming more frugal in his or her purchasing decisions, while still expecting quality and lamb produced to the highest health and welfare standards,” he told a show reception for sheep industry stakeholders.

“Let us please maintain a dialogue, understand each other’s difficult issues and seek efficiencies wherever possible.”

Sustainable future

His company, which slaughters around 1m lambs a year, and one of the principle suppliers of lamb to J Sainsbury, was committed to securing a sustainable future for Welsh farming.

Primary producers, processors, retailers, educationalists, promotional bodies and government in Wales already had the sort of joined up approach needed.

This meant that Dunbia was very much aware of farmers’ rising production costs, and like all processors was also not immune to sharp cost increases.

“With this current backdrop to our industry, never has it been more important to get our branding correct, promote our product and be innovative in our processing.

“We shall be holding key meetings during the show period with Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) to synchronise our strategies and ensure effective use of levy payers’ money.”

On the processing side the company was developing an electronic identification tag reader able to cope with a high speed lamb processing.