A Government Deputy Minister will take part in a trade mission to Italy this week to see the major inroads made into the European export market by Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.
Alun Davies, the Welsh Government’s the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and European Programmes will join red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru in Milan where he will visit Italian importers, wholesalers and retailers.
He will also meet one of the country’s top chefs, a regular on Italian TV’s Masterchef, who is a passionate advocate of Welsh Lamb.
Italy is a major customer for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.
In 2011, Italy imported £11 million worth of Welsh Lamb, an increase of 40 per cent over the previous year. Welsh Beef exports to the country also rose by 17 per cent in 2011 to stand at £6.7 million.
Deputy Minister Alun Davies, said: “Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef have reached record export sales this year - a fantastic achievement, and one that is particularly important to the economy in Wales during difficult times.
“HCC has played a vital role in reaching this goal and I am pleased to be able to accept their invitation to visit Italy to continue to boost the reputation, awareness and sales of Welsh produce in Europe.
“The figures show the popularity of Welsh meat is growing abroad, and this is testament to the superb quality of our home grown produce.
Welsh meat is a symbol of Welsh identity and part of our culture, and I am so proud that this top quality product is being enjoyed all over the world.
“The Welsh Government remains committed to promoting Welsh meat and strengthening the Welsh food industry as a whole.”
HCC Chairman Dai Davies said: “Italy is one of our most important overseas markets and an ideal location to show our Deputy Minister how successful our promotional work has been.
“Not only can the Deputy Minister see the work that we have already done, but his presence at events that we have organised for existing and potential customers in Italy will help cement our excellent relationship with importers and retailers as well as continue to raise Wales’ profile overseas.
“This, we hope, will encourage increased exports to the country generating increased wealth for farmers and processors back home in Wales.”
During the visit the Deputy Minister will meet representatives of several major Italian supermarket chains as well as major meat distributors located in the southern half of the country.
The Deputy Minister will also host a dinner for company representatives and leading Italian journalists in the Milan restaurant owned by Carlo Cracco, a star of Italian TV’s Masterchef.
He is a highly respected figure in Italian culinary circles, and a powerful supporter of Welsh Lamb.