WillWelsh lamb lose its status post-Brexit?
There are concerns about what might happen to Welsh lamb sales after Brexit if it no longer enjoys PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status from the EU.
Welsh lamb was awarded PGI status by the European Commission in July 2003, joining such worldrenowned products as Champagne, Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Cornish pasties.
To qualify as true PGI Welsh lamb, it has to be born and reared in Wales, fully traceable, and slaughtered and processed in an approved abbatoir or cutting plant.
The PGI status of Welsh lamb and Welsh beef is of enormous economic importance, according to the Welsh red meat promotion body Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).
According to HCC, it's estimated that having PGI status gives Welsh lamb a premium of PS1.70 a kilo above other types of lamb, which is worth an extra PS1m a year to the industry.
Export figures vary for different markets, but it has been calculated that 25% of the overall increase in exports is due to the PGI brand and related marketing. That adds up to PS42.5m in extra sales over a 10-year period.
Gwyn Howells, chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales, said: "The PGI brands have been hugely valuable for Welsh lamb and Welsh beef, helping our quality produce to command a premium in the UK market and abroad.
"The PGI status reassures customers about the provenance of Welsh meat and is well-known as a mark of exceptional standard in Europe and other key export markets.
"In order to retain and build our markets for Welsh lamb and beef, it's vital that we retain this designation. We are involved, with the UK Protected Food Name Association and Welsh Government, in ongoing discussions with Defra to make sure that this can continue.
"It is possible for non-EU products to achieve this status, but equivalent protection will need to be passed into UK law before Brexit in order to ensure a smooth transition."
In total, 11 Welsh products have so far been given EU protected food name status. Besides lamb and beef, they include Pembrokeshire Early potatoes, Halen Mon Anglesey sea salt, Welsh wine, Conwy mussels, Carmarthen ham, traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork and west Wales coracle-caught salmon and sewin.
NFU Cymru president Stephen James said: "NFU Cymru believes that protected food names that include PGI Welsh lamb, PGI Welsh beef and Pembrokeshire Early potatoes have been important in helping to market, promote and increase value of our produce.
"That is why NFU Cymru, in conjunction with the NFU, National Pig Association and NFU Scotland, have written to DEFRA Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom MP expressing our concern."
An FUW spokesperson said: "The loss of PGI status for any Welsh products would be a major concern as it is well-recognised, particularly in important mainland Europe export markets.
"Once we exit the EU there are concerns that administrative and political barriers would lead to a delay in renewing well-established PGI brands within the EU, so we need to make sure we are 'good to go' for re-registration as soon as we leave the EU in 2019."
Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths said: "Our Protected Food Name basket continues to grow, which is a tribute to the dedication of our producers to quality.
"This recognition is important because as we prepare for a future outside the EU we will be able to demonstrate to potential new markets that Wales produces a wide range of high-quality food and drink products."
She added: "We are working closely with Defra, who act as the link to the EU, to ensure a future for protected food names when we leave Europe.
"There are other countries outside of Europe with protected food names and this sets a precedent for the UK to consider a similar reciprocal scheme in the future."
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||May 9, 2017|
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