LATEST figures show that while the retail price of lamb for consumers is lower in the spring of 2015, compared to the spring of 2014, it has not fallen anywhere near as much as the farmer’s share of that retail price which has dropped from 60 per cent to 50 per cent over the past year.
Speaking following a meeting of the NFU Cymru Livestock Board, Lyndon Edwards, said: “Lower retail prices would help bolster demand for lamb, but consumers aren’t seeing as much of a drop in price as farmers are, which begs the question – who is profiting from lamb? Our farm-gate price of lamb is reaching critically low levels. Whilst we recognise that trading conditions are tough, as the strength of sterling and the Eurozone crisis impacts negatively on our export markets, we are called to see that whilst the price we are receiving for our lambs has slumped that this price crash is not being reflected in the price on the shelves. Farmers need a sustainable price for their product that encourages them to invest in future production, returns must be delivered to everyone throughout the supply chain so that the consumer can continue to enjoy and savour PGI Welsh lamb in years to come. We know the challenges we all face in boosting lamb consumption here in the UK but I am confident that this can be achieved by giving in season PGI Welsh lamb pride of place on retail shelves and promoting our fantastic product this summer.”
Mr Edwards ended: “Members of our livestock board have been carrying out our own store watch in recent days visiting retail stores across Wales to find out who is showing commitment to Welsh lamb. Whilst there are retailers out there who are very supportive of Welsh lamb we have to say how appalled we are that in the first week of July we continue to see so much importedproductstillavailableonretail shelves in many stores. Individually we have complained to local store managers and as a Union we are using every available opportunity to raise our concerns with the agricultural teams and directors and we will continue to do so in the coming weeks.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has warned that the fall in lamb prices, drastically reduced farm incomes and frustrations over the volume of imported lamb on supermarket shelves means farmer anger is reaching boiling point.
“Lamb prices have fallen drastically over recent weeks, with prices down by around 20 percent compared with the same period last year,” said FUW livestock, wool and marts committee chairman Dafydd Roberts. “Such falls come against a background of predicted falls in net hill and lowland livestock farm incomes of 41 and 24%.”
Mr Roberts said the volumes of imported lamb, which continue to appear on supermarket shelves, added insult to injury for farmers who had seen a fall in live-weight new season lamb prices of around 35p/Kg during June.
“The FUW has highlighted the need for an increase in farm-gate prices for all commodities during meetings with supermarkets over recent months, and the current plight of the industry was reiterated in a meeting with deputy minister Rebecca Evans last week. We will continue to draw attention to the need for fair farm-gate returns in meetings with bodies involved in the supply chain during the Royal Welsh show,” he added.
Mr Roberts said that while there was an ongoingfocusonfarmers cutting costs and become more efficient, there was widespread feeling that those further down the supply chain were not meeting their side of the bargain by showing the type of commitment to Welsh produce promised during the horsemeat scandal.
“As people struggle to pay bills and face up to the prospect of further falls in CAP support, tempers are beginning to fray and action needs to be taken to restore confidence,” he added.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Agriculture Minister, Llyr Gruffydd AM, has called on the Welsh Government to take urgent steps to protect Welsh farmers as price of Welsh produce continues to plummet.
Lamb prices have dropped by around 20 per cent compared with the same period last year as total farm income continues to plummet. The price of liveweight new season lamb fell by around 35p/Kg in June 2015.
The news comes just a few days after milk buyer, First Milk announced a further 1ppl cut to its standard litre price, meaning the majority of Welsh dairy farmers will be receiving milk prices far below the cost of production.
The Party of Wales’ Shadow Agriculture Minister, Llyr Gruffydd AM, said: “Supporting our farmers is a matter of increasing urgency and it is imperative that the Welsh Government steps in which is why Plaid Cymru will be holding a debate next week in the Senedd which will call on the government to utilise the Rural Development Programme to provide immediate support for those most affected and to protect farmers from the volatility of the global markets by strengthening domestic supply chains.
“If this isn’t a message to supermarkets, I don’t know what is. They have a duty of care to their suppliers and they need to recognise that the sector is struggling. We need leadership from the Welsh Government to ensure that supermarkets step in and support their suppliers. When the boot was on the other foot during the horsemeat scandal the suppliers stood by the supermarkets – it is now incumbent on the supermarkets to show the same loyalty.
“The public sector also needs to set an example and ensure as much of its produce is sourced from within Wales as possible and we needn’t look very far to see what needs to be done. Gwynedd council has led by example, sourcing 100 per cent of its school meals contracts from within Gwynedd or the surrounding region whereas Anglesey council over the bridge spends its whole school meals budget in Reading.
“Welsh farmers have been suffering for too long with seemingly perpetual cuts to farm-gate prices coupled with the slashing of their subsidy payments by the Welsh Government. It is imperative that the Welsh Government shows leadership in turning the situation around.”
Economic value of red meat sector rises
THE VALUE of the iconic beef, lamb and pork sectors to the Welsh economy rose in 2020, as consumers turned to local, sustainable, quality food during the COVID pandemic, according to analysis by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).New figures from the Welsh Government ‘Aggregate Agricultural Output and Income’ report show that the total value of agricultural output in Wales for 2020 is projected to stand at £1.7billion – a 6.2% (or £99 million) increase on the provisional figure for 2019.
Cattle and sheep account for 44% of this total at £750million; the highest proportion recorded since 2016. The agricultural output value for Wales’s pig sector also increased (by 34.3% or £2 million) to a value of £8 million.
The figures reflect the strength of the livestock sector in Wales and sit in contrast to Total Income From Farming (TIFF) figures for the UK as a whole newly released by Defra. Although the TIFF figures are a different form of measuring farm production, the UK data concurs that the livestock sector has had a strong year, but in other parts of Britain, this was more than offset by poor harvests in the arable sector.
Demand for beef and lamb have been strong in the domestic retail market since the immediate aftermath of the first COVID lockdown in spring 2020. After initial market volatility, marketing campaigns by HCC and other bodies encouraged consumers to recreate restaurant meals at home.
Over the past 12 months, domestic retail sales of lamb and beef have trended consistently higher, with spending on lamb 20% higher than the previous year. Sales at independent high street butchers are also strong.
Research shows many demographic groups, including families with children, buying more beef and lamb than previously, and turning to quality home-grown produce.
HCC Data Analyst Glesni Phillips said, “The strong demand for red meat from the domestic consumer has helped drive market prices for beef and lamb at Welsh livestock markets in the second half of 2020 and into the early months of 2021.
“It’s no surprise, therefore, to see that the overall value of the industry is projected to have grown. We have seen inflation in the costs on farmers, which offset some of the gains from improved market price; however, it’s heartening to see consumers’ support for quality Welsh produce.“Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef remain key drivers of our rural economy, and given their excellent brand reputation, they act as flagship products for the growing Welsh food and drink sector.”Further analysis of the aggregate output and income figures for Welsh farms are available in HCC’s latest monthly market bulletin.
Ian Rickman: 2021 is a critical year for Wales’ farming future
THE INCREASINGLY negative narrative around livestock farming and its portrayed impact on the environment and climate change has led to farmers in Wales standing up to tell their stories and highlight the positive impact livestock farming has.
Through the Farmers’ Union of Wales’ campaign ‘Guardians of the Welsh Land’, farmers are addressing misleading claims by various groups about the role livestock farming plays in relation to climate change and the environment. Launching the campaign, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “The FUW has consistently recognised the threat represented by climate change and the need to take action. This is clear from a cursory look at our manifestos and policy documents published over the past twenty years.
“We know that farming is already responsible for a critical carbon resource in soils, woodland and semi-natural habitats and I’m pleased to launch the FUW’s environment campaign – ‘Guardians of the Welsh Land’ from my home farm here in Carmarthenshire today. As farmers are the most trusted link in the supply chain, they are best placed to communicate their stories, helping to address consumer concerns and influencing political agendas. Members can also look forward to a variety of webinars over the coming months, which will focus on the different challenges ahead for the industry and how to overcome them.
“There is no question in our mind that we need to counteract the continuation by the anti-farming lobby of their campaign to vilify and belittle domestic food producers. These attacks are corrosive and grossly misleading, negatively influencing consumer perception of the industry and influencing political agendas on a global scale.”
Mr Rickman added that 2021 is an important year for these types of conversations.
“Knocking on our door are the United Nations Food Systems Summit and COP26. The FUW has been engaging with these conversations at an international level and shares some concerns with other industries across the globe about the wider narrative and ambitions set out in inconspicuous looking documents. Plans, we and the general public don’t support. Telling the positive story of the guardians of our Welsh land is now more important than ever,” he said.
Starting in the first week of June, the campaign introduces four farmers all of whom tell the story of how they are addressing environmental and climate change needs in their unique ways: Carmarthenshire organic sheep farmer Phil Jones, the Roberts family from Meirionnydd, Ceredigion dairy farmers Lyn and Lowri Thomas and FUW President Glyn Roberts who farms with his daughter Beca at Dylasau Uchaf in Snowdonia.
“The campaign will further highlight that Welsh farmers are rising to the challenge of improving soil health and increasing organic matter in soils, improvements which represent further opportunities for sequestering more carbon. These improvements, the campaign will highlight, are achieved through specific livestock grazing patterns and rest periods. The campaign is also clear that the correct options, guidance and rewards are required to encourage more farmers to adopt such systems,” said Mr Rickman.
Soil, the campaign will stress, is a long term investment and at present, around 410 million tonnes of carbon is stored in Welsh soils and 75,700 hectares of Wales’ woodland (25%) is on farmland, representing an important and growing carbon sink.
“As acknowledged in Natural Resources Wales’ State of Natural Resources Report, using land for food production is an essential part of natural resource use and management. Whilst we acknowledge that agricultural intensification has undeniably had negative impacts on some species and ecosystems, there is overwhelming evidence that other factors, including reductions in agricultural activity and afforestation, have also had severe negative impacts,” he added.
Excellent Easter for lamb sales
Lamb proved a popular choice for consumers over Easter with retail sales soaring above the last two years. This demand has been reflected at livestock markets where farmgate prices are still standing strong.
At a time when lamb is always a firm favourite, this year people of all ages were both buying and spending more as a result of a renewed interest in sourcing quality, local produce and cooking at home.
In the 12 weeks to 18 April 2021, the total volume purchased was up 14.8% on the year, and 6.0% higher than in 2019. Consumer spend on lamb reached £190.0 million, which was 18.7% more than in 2020 and 14.6% higher than the same period in 2019.
Lamb leg roasting joints were the most sought-after cuts despite the fact that Covid-19 restrictions on large gatherings remained, followed by chops and mince.
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) Data Analyst, Glesni Phillips said: “Lamb performed exceptionally well over the Easter period this year. It saw a 10.2% increase in the number of buyers engaging with the product and a rise of 3.3% in the frequency of which lamb was bought.
“The average price of lamb was also higher, but this obviously did not deter new buyers. The figures show that there are new buyers in all age categories, but this is especially true for shoppers aged under 45 years and those with children.
“The pandemic has led to more consumers cooking at home, giving many the opportunity to realise and enjoy the exceptional qualities and versatility of Welsh Lamb, and at the same time, support the local economy.”
Butchers also benefitted from the popularity of lamb in the run-up to Easter with total spend increasing by 16.1% on the year. The volume sold also increased, by 12.6%.
Glesni Phillips added: “As we approach the end of Spring, the consumer demand for lamb is continuing. This can be seen in the liveweight lamb prices which remain strong when compared to historical averages, with the average SQQ in Wales standing at 329.7p/kg in Wales for the week ending 15 May 2021.
“New season lambs are now entering the market – they accounted for over 70% of lambs at auction in Wales during the latest week – but the supply is still relatively tight. HCC is looking forward to working with retailers over the coming months on new activity, which will include in-store marketing, press and targeted digital communication to maintain this growth in sales. Butchers, who demonstrated their key role in the community during the pandemic, will also be offered training on a number of key skills to boost their sales even further.”
News2 weeks ago
Police probe circumstances surrounding child’s death in Carmarthenshire
News2 weeks ago
Missing girls found thanks to eagle-eyed police and digital enquiries
News6 days ago
Further £48,000 for foodbanks in Carmarthen
News1 week ago
Drakeford: “We will not be lifting every restriction in Wales from June 21”
Sport7 days ago
Ammanford march on in Welsh Cup
Sport7 days ago
Ammanford well beaten by Port Talbot
News2 weeks ago
Make some noise: Crowds allowed at Welsh sport, festivals and outdoor gigs
Health6 days ago
Coronavirus cases in Wales still lowest in UK says Health Minister