Branded Welsh lamb seeks out a marketplace
By Robert Davies Wales correspondent
FARMERS First Group has launched a new company to market branded Welsh lamb.
Farmers Fresh Cymru, announced at this weeks Welsh Winter Fair, will use a new information technology system at its Kenilworth headquarters to provide overseas customers with guaranteed traceablity back to Welsh farms, which directors claim is a sales incentive.
Currently 6000 Welsh lamb carcasses and 23,000 of the 25,000 live lambs exported each week by Farmers Fresh and Farmers Ferry are procured in Wales.
"For some time we have seen the opportunity for Welsh produce in Europe and this development will help secure more markets on the continent," said Terry Bayliss, group chairman.
Instead of letting others further up the food chain cash in on the marketability of the Welsh brand, the new company would try to ensure the rewards of "Welshness" reached primary producers.
Marketing director Mike Gooding said talks were under way with Welsh Lamb and Beef Promotions, who were close to registering the regional identity of Welsh lamb and a red dragon logo, to show how the latest technology could provide absolute guarantees that lambs slaughtered outside Wales were Welsh. But as the business grew there is no reason why the company should not invest in downstream processing in Wales.
Farmers Firsts directors hope that the new company will attract Welsh Development Agency and EU Objective 1 funding similar to that promised to Welsh Livestock Ltd, the fledgling all-Wales procurement and processing co-operative.
Gainor Morgan, a director of that co-op, said great strides had been made on establishing two joint venture processing companies add value to livestock produced on Welsh farms. She refused to accept that Farmers Firsts initiative was a damaging spoiling tactic.
But Bob Parry, president of the Farmers Union of Wales, said he expected producers to be put off investing in the co-op by news that a largely farmer-owned meat and live lamb exporting company was committed to procuring Welsh sheep to market under the dragon logo.
In an extraordinary attack, Mr Parry applauded Farmers Fresh Cymrus new Produce of Wales brand mark and described the use of the little red tractor British food mark "as irrelevant to Wales and meaningless to most consumers". *
Two-line capTwo-line capTwo-line capTwo-line capTwo-line capTwo-line cap