Wales could hit the ‘Smokies’ jackpot

The Welsh meat industry could be sitting on a £3m goldmine if the laws on ‘skin-on sheep meat’ were relaxed, a report by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has revealed.

Production of skin-on sheep meat is said to offer an alternative outlet for low-quality cull ewes that would otherwise be destined for the halal trade. Competition for skin-on sheep meat may in turn force cull ewe prices to increase, added HCC, which would be of benefit to producers.

The report concluded: “It has been estimated that up to 155,000 ewe carcases or 25% of the Welsh ewes slaughtered each year, could be processed to produce ‘skin-on sheep meat’. This is a significant proportion of Welsh ewes that would otherwise be of a low commercial value to both the farmer and to the retailer.”

Commonly known as ‘Smokies’, skin-on meat from goats and sheep is said to be a traditional food for some sectors of African and Asian communities.

Any chance of allowing Smokies to be permitted in the UK would be pending a study being carried out by the Food Standards Agency, which would then be submitted to the European Commission.

The HCC report added: “With a premium of £20 per carcase for ‘skin-on sheep meat’ carcases over conventionally processed mutton carcases, there is the opportunity for the Welsh red meat industry to generate a significant premium of approximately £3.1m.”