A Welsh Lamb mission to the USA, organised by Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Promotion Wales, is under way in a bid to open up the US market and add £20m to the Welsh economy.
The diplomatic mission, lasting for the duration of this week, is being led by the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies. Meetings will be held in Washington with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The delegation will also visit Canada, where Welsh Lamb is already successfully exported.
HCC market development manager Laura Dodds said: "Our research indicates there’s a demand for high-quality lamb among the more affluent sectors of American society. Welsh Lamb, with its Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, fits the bill perfectly for the discerning US consumer."
HCC estimates that 3,100 tonnes of Welsh Lamb could be exported to the USA every year. The mission follows extensive research into the US market and the successful experience of exporting Welsh Lamb to Canada, which began in 2011.
Davies said: "The quality and taste of Welsh Lamb is already well-known throughout Europe and much of the world, but we are constantly looking to break into new markets and open up new business opportunities for Welsh food producers. I’m very pleased to be leading this latest trade mission as it provides us with an excellent opportunity to promote our lamb to some of the most discerning customers in the US and Canada."
There are almost nine million sheep in Wales, while recent figures show that the number of sheep in the US is now just 5.34 million, down from 56 million in 1945.
Dodds added: "Our aim is not to compete with American farmers, but to complement their efforts and to help boost demand among the American public for premium-quality lamb. If we can gain a 5% share of lamb imports, that would currently be worth £20m a year to Wales."