Direct trading links between mountain lamb producers and supermarkets were highlighted at the Royal Welsh Show press conferences.

Rees Roberts, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) launched the Tesco Welsh Mountain lamb scheme for the second year and rural affairs minister Elin Jones applauded initiatives involving the Co-op, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose.

Gwyn Howells, chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru, said each scheme was very welcome. But he reminded producers that other markets still had to be found for most lambs produced by Wales’s 4.5m breeding ewes.

Right outlets

He said: “There is a range of markets for the large number of breeds and crosses we produce, but finishers need to target the right outlets. To pocket a profit it is a case of horses for courses.

“This is especially true of the 1m light hill lambs that are exported to countries like Italy and Spain. These markets are volatile and we need to improve producers’ European market intelligence.

“We also have to develop alternative markets for Welsh lamb which, fortunately, has a very strong brand image. The new Red Meat Action Plan, due to be published later in the year, would help Welsh sheep farmers plan ahead.”

Added value

He added that HCC was committed to encouraging meat companies to invest in cutting and packaging facilities to add value to products.

“It is difficult to compete on price when just selling carcasses, but we are well place to exploit the variety and quality of sheep we have, and Welsh lamb’s green image.”

Mr Howells urged producers to supply processors with the type of lambs they wanted, and to benchmark their production costs to ensure they were doing it as efficiently as possible.

“If they do not have their figures they will not know how they compare with the best producers or where they can improve their systems.”