The people of China could soon be eating Welsh lamb following top-level talks aimed at opening up lamb exports to the country.
Wales’ first minister Carwyn Jones held talks in Cardiff this week with the chief inspector of the body that controls the import and export of food to China, the Quality Supervision, Inspection & Quarantine.
Currently Welsh farmers are prevented from selling lamb meat to China, although the industry exported just over 31,000 tonnes last year to other countries. These exports netted £111m for the Welsh economy.The Welsh Government has been working closely with red meat levy body, Hybu Cig Cymru, to open up the market in China, including face-to-face talks involving the First Minister, Welsh red meat exporters and a high level trade delegation from the Chinese Embassy at the Royal Welsh Show last year.
The Chinese delegation this week visited a Hirwaun farm which produces lamb and also the Vion processing plant at Merthyr.
Carwyn Jones says the Welsh sheep industry plays an important part in the rural economy of Wales but he wants to see that further expanded.
“We know there is an appetite for Welsh lamb across the globe and since 2008 we have been exporting to Hong Kong with great success,” he said.
“We now want to build on this and move closer to the prospect of importing Welsh lamb to the potentially huge Chinese market,” he added. “Welsh lamb is a world class product and we want the people of China to have the opportunity to discover it.”
Gwyn Howells, HCC chief executive, says market research carried out by HCC demonstrates that there is a major demand in China for Welsh lamb.