Working together from gate to plate.
Co-operation has long been hailed as the remedy to low farm incomes. If farmers worked together by buying and selling in groups, the thinking goes, they would have lower costs and greater bargaining power in the marketplace.
The Welsh Meat Company has put this thinking into practice. It was set up three years ago following a report by the Welsh Assembly Government that identified the need for farmers to be involved in the whole supply chain. It is now the leading farmers' co-operative for the red meat sector in Wales with a membership of 700 producers and is the first real attempt to involve farmers throughout the whole supply chain.
Our aim is to become the leading provider of livestock marketing services to its members in Wales and to develop a 'gate to plate' philosophy to market and process prime Welsh lamb and beef with full traceability.
So why should farmers join the Welsh Meat Company? Selling co-operatively means that farmers can benefit from our brand name 'Celtic Pride' which is being positioned at the quality end of the market. Our members also benefit by the expectation of a premium if they have been part of a drive to create a quality supply in the marketplace.
This has already been achieved by the launching of schemes such as our Dairy Bull Beef Scheme and the Celtic Pride Premium Beef Project, which offers premium prices for a quality supply.
Our Celtic Pride Premium Beef Project has been at the forefront of recent progress within the Welsh Meat Company.
It is a collaboration of four Welsh agri-food businesses namely Wynnstay, Welsh Meat Company, T H Sutcliffe and Castell Howell Foods.
Welsh Countryside Minister Carwyn Jones launched it at last year's Royal Welsh Show, and in 2004 sales are likely to exceed pounds 1.7m.
Its aim is to supply premium cuts of quality Welsh beef, marketed under our Celtic Pride brand name, to a range of customers across the UK.
The product is produced, processed and packaged in Wales and all producers must adhere to a strict producer protocol based on the latest research findings on beef production from the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research in Aberystwyth.
The project is a classic example of a real food chain initiative that moves our beef from producer to consumer.
Farmers can join the Welsh Meat Company by telephoning (01239) 710042 or at our website www.welshmeat.net
Nicola Raymond Evans is the Marketing Manager for the Welsh Meat Company