A decline in ewe numbers could mean the Welsh sheep industry misses out on a golden opportunity to exploit increased demand for lamb, Rees Roberts, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) has warned.
Mr Roberts told visitors to the Welsh Winter Fair that there had been a 7% decline in the number of breeding ewes in Wales from just under 4.5m in 2007 to just under 4.2m this year.
That drop meant the Welsh industry could miss out on the chance to win markets left open by New Zealand, which was forecast to struggle to supply its traditional world markets in the latter half of 2009.
“If we can supply premium Welsh lamb into markets traditionally held by New Zealand, I’m sure that when those consumers taste the quality of our product they won’t want to go back to anything else.
“It would be a tragedy if, just as consumption of Welsh lamb is on the increase both at home and abroad, we suddenly found ourselves in a position where supply cannot keep up with demand,” said Mr Rees.
“We must work together to grasp this opportunity with both hands.”