Industry moves to improve shelflife of Welsh Lamb

Welsh red meat bosses are taking measures to extend the shelflife of Welsh Lamb, in order to be more competitive overseas and reduce waste.

To do this Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) - Meat Promotion Wales – is extending its shelflife project to major lamb processors in Wales, as well as farming unions and auctioneers.

The extension was announced at an HCC conference in Aberystwyth earlier this month, where HCC industry development manager Sion Aron Jones told delegates that Welsh Lamb’s global appeal was high, yet the meat was unable to reach as far as would have been liked.

He said Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Lamb had a strong consumer following, “but is currently constrained by the relatively limited shelflife that is achieved by the industry”. As a result, Jones added that it was unable to compete effectively with lamb from New Zealand and Australia.

“HCC is working with all partners in the supply chain to increase the shelflife achieved by PGI Welsh Lamb to reduce waste, increase export competitiveness, achieve more cost effective access to distant markets by sea-freight, extend seasonal availability and improve sustainability credentials,” said Jones.

Jones also said that many overseas supermarkets expected fresh lamb should have a shelflife that exceeded 14-21 days.

He said shelflife was determined by consumers and retailers, pointing out that “a sensory panel assessing colour, taste, smell and eating quality is probably the most reliable indicator of shelflife,” and added that “colour retention and stability were critical” in this.  

Jones also explained that the outcome of shelflife extensions would also have an impact on food waste. He said: “Total combined food waste along the value chain is as high as 32% and processors and retailers are very supportive of actions to bring this high figure down.”