12 December 1997

Welsh beef marketing gets a £1.2m boost

OVER £1m is to be invested in improving the technical efficiency and marketing expertise of Welsh beef producers.

The four-year ADAS-managed project was launched at the Welsh Winter Fair last week, using EU Objective 5b cash, plus a £324,121 Welsh Office top-up. Technical input will also come from the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Welsh Institute of RuralStudies.

Five farms, including WIRSs organic unit, will be used to evaluate latest research and development information on the main production systems used in Wales. Most of the farms are expected to be commercial units, and these will receive set-up and management payments.

Named Quality Beef Produc-tion in Wales, the £1.2m project gives priority to efficient management, product quality, farm assurance, traceability and environmental protection. Producer groups linked to the farms will provide a two-way flow of information, and technical and marketing reports are to be mailed directly to most Welsh beef producers.

Livestock Marketing Ltd, which is part of Welsh Food Promotions, has been appointed as marketing facilitator. Director Philip Morgan, who arranged the successful lamb contract between the Waitrose chain and members of Farm Assured Welsh Livestock, is looking for the most profitable outlets for the different types of beef produced.

"We want this to be a true partnership between producer, processor and retailer, which means developing systems supplying beef that matches differing marketing specifications," Mr Morgan said. "Markets have to be found and developed to get the best returns, whether it is beef from the suckler herd, from finishing calves from the dairy herd, or from organic farms."