Welsh lamb and beef producers fear they could lose their PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) price premium post-Brexit.
It is estimated that for Welsh lamb, having PGI status provides the farmer with a premium of £1.70 /kg above other types of lamb and is worth an extra million pounds a year to the industry.
But, as livestock farmers attending a Royal Welsh Show seminar debated the future of the Welsh red meat market, concerns were raised over whether PGI branding could be applied to food produced in a non-EU country.
See also: ‘Tariff-free access to EU markets vital’
Welsh Beef was awarded PGI status by the EU Commission in November 2002 and Welsh Lamb in July 2003.
But, Ruth Mason, NFU chief food chain adviser, said there was uncertainty over how these would fit into the EU framework for food products.
“We need to ensure that all the hard work that has gone into achieving PGI status is not lost after we leave the EU,” she told farmers at the NFU Cymru seminar.
It is possible for non-EU products to achieve PGI status, but equivalent protection will need to be passed into UK law before Brexit to ensure a smooth transition.
PGI has helped to boost exports of Welsh lamb and beef – but supply to the domestic market will have added significance in future.
NFU Cymru’s livestock board chairman, Wyn Evans, told the seminar: “Retailers are going to be very important in the next few years; domestic consumption is going to be paramount.”
He called on retailers to provide a “clear and transparent” commitment to sourcing UK products and dedicated shelf space.
But farmers will have to do their bit too, warned John Dracup, red meat procurement director at 2 Sisters.
“We need to ensure that the product delivers on the plate for the consumer every time,” he said.
And having efficient and progressive businesses will create success, regardless of which approach politicians take to Brexit, Mr Dracup added.
“At 2 Sisters we are not sitting on our hands. In the last 12 months we have reduced our workforce by 25%. Five hundred people have been removed from the business to make it more efficient.”