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Written Statement - Trade Mission to USA and Canada to promote Welsh Lamb

Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

I recently undertook a trade mission to the USA and Canada along with Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).  

The purpose of this trade mission was to make progress in opening up the market to Welsh lamb.  The USA does not currently permit the import of Welsh Lamb, or lamb from other European countries, due to longstanding concerns about transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE).  

I met with officials in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) including the Agricultural marketing Services, the animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service to determine the means for Welsh Lamb to gain access to the USA.  I used the opportunity to explain the high quality nature of Welsh Lamb and its Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.

These meetings with the USDA were extremely positive.  It is now accepting the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) position that TSEs do not pose any risk to human health and is committing to bring the USA TSE rule into line with the USA position on BSE.

I demonstrated how Wales could help encourage lamb demand generally in the USA and, in light of the decline of the domestic lamb industry within the USA, this position was warmly welcomed by the USDA, Meat Import Council of America, Tri Nations Lamb Group and North America Meat Association.

It is clear that there is a high demand for top quality lamb in the USA.  Once access to this market is secured, it is estimated that Wales could export 3,100 tonnes of Welsh Lamb to the USA every year, earning a huge £20 million for the Welsh economy.

I also visited Toronto to meet with lamb importers/distributors, the British High Commission and met with the UKTI Director of Trade for Canada  in order to assess the market potential for Welsh Lamb and to promote trade between Wales and Canada.  

I also visited retail and foodservice establishments in Canada stocking Welsh Lamb.  There is a clear demand for high quality grass fed lamb from both high end retail and hospitality businesses, and also general retail and catering sectors in Canada.  

Due to more favourable logistics, Welsh Lamb exports are currently focused on Eastern Canada and volumes are growing well.  Following the recent visit, the West Coast will be further researched as a potential target market for Welsh Lamb in order to further grow exports of Welsh Lamb to Canada.