2015-02-23   facebooktwitterrss

Challenge to Sell More Lamb

Getting more lamb onto the supermarket shelves emerged as the main thrust of the NSA Cymru Wales AGM, which had taken ‘Taking the industry forward’, as its theme.

Chairman Paul Wozencraft of Rhayader, Powys, said it was vital to look after the customer. Sheep producers needed a fair return, but the price of lamb had to be affordable.

Speakers at the AGM were (left to right) Steve Hughson, Rhydian Thomas and Dai Morris

Speakers at the AGM were (left to right) Steve Hughson, Rhydian Thomas and Dai Morris

He added: “Lamb must not become a niche product and we need to continue to promote our produce and get people to eat it on a regular basis. The EU meat sector is currently battling falling consumption and it’s vital to keep finding new markets and, with the help of HCC, we will keep doing that.

“Something we need to be aware of is the fluctuating exchange rate and the strengthening pound. It could have a huge impact on farmgate prices this year. It’s not something in our control but we need to be aware of it.

“All we can do as sheep farmers is to manage our costs and, more often than not, the weather will dictate our inputs.”

The low profile of lamb at an ASDA store in Preston forcibly struck NSA Next Generation Ambassador, Rhydian Thomas. He told the AGM that he had visited the store as part of the NSA organised professional development programme.

Rhydian, of Carmarthen based Cothi Shears, said: We visited an Asda store which Dunbia supplies with lamb. It was shocking to realise how little shelf space lamb had in the supermarket.

“We saw while we were there, a woman picking up some lamb chops, look at the price, and then place it back on the shelves. She then picked up some chicken, which was much cheaper and that was quite worrying.”

Rhydian said he was also struck by the fact that the store manager couldn’t find the time to address the group. It was left to the Dunbia representative to show the group around.

Dr Dai Morris, sheep farmer and recent John Gittins award winner, reflected on fifty years in sheep farming. Looking to the future, he stressed that good grassland management was the basis of all sheep work and he produced rams genuinely off grass so that they didn’t ‘melt away’ once put to work.

He stressed that, while recording was important and he had been the first to start the sire reference scheme with the Charollais and had also been involved with Lleyn recording, he NEVER chose breeding stock on figures. He produced rams with high figures because many buy on figures, but he felt that where breeders relied on figures alone, the flocks went down.

Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Chief Executive, Steve Hughson, shared his vision for the future of the Society. He stressed that the Royal Welsh, worth more than £40 million a year to the Welsh rural economy is ‘more than a show, much more than four days’.

The summer Show was the largest in Europe, possibly the world, with 8,000 livestock, of which 3,300 are sheep. It was the show of the people, and brought all Wales together with a different featured county each year.

He added: ”We’ve got a really fantastic platform here to market what is best in Welsh agriculture. We’ve got a site here we continue to invest in. We have a ten year plan, a ten year vision.”

The Society promoted science, livestock, culture, the arts and heritage. He stressed the importance of linking with the future through the Young Peoples’ Forum and maintaining links with the Young Farmers movement. He added that the message to Government was.


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