Sushi, Tempora, Gyoza, Welsh lamb – that could be a gourmet menu in Japan after the announcement of a new export deal by Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

“I can tell you today that Welsh lamb is on its way to Japan,” revealed HCC chair Catherine Smith on Monday, 27 November.

“It will be arriving this week and we now have firm plans to build on that with a significant launch into food service businesses in Japan early in the new year.”

In what she called a “double Welsh Lamb whammy” she went on to tell guests at the HCC industry breakfast of a further major export deal in HCC’s European customer base.

“Our work in the export market has also borne fruit in one of our key European territories, where a new agreement was progressed that could see Welsh lamb stocked in up to a further 1,000 stores in a major German retail chain.”

She said supplying Japan had taken years of negotiation, advocacy and persistence and was a testimony to the sterling work that HCC, in its 20th birthday year, is doing to hold up and extend the value of our premium brands.

“Our evidence-based consumer branding work has informed and underpinned the current Experts In Our Field marketing campaign. I’m delighted to report that this campaign is succeeding and that this work would not be possible on the scale that it has been carried out without the brilliance of our farmers and their unrivalled sustainability credentials product - and, of course, the valuable and continued support of Welsh Government,” she said.

“We’re in a good place – and it’s vital we stay there.”

She said Welsh livestock was a billion-pound industry.

“Farm total income is more than £600 million; we employ just under 50,000 people and of course, many more in the supply chain. Exports are worth £258m – and you’ve just heard we’re on our way to more in 2024 – and our 8.7 million sheep and 1.1 million cattle produce around 90,000 tonnes of red meat each year.”

“These figures show we’re at the head of the Welsh economy – but we’re also the heart of the Welsh economy. Our ‘industry’ is an all-embracing term for our majestic patchwork quilt of production, our incredible network of traditional family farms,” added Ms Smith.

She described the Welsh livestock industry as “home after home, knitted together and reliant on each other. In Wales, we cannot afford to lose any farms. We cannot afford to lose our young, inspirational farmers. We cannot put at risk our critical mass of livestock in Wales, our world leading processing sector and the powerhouse of our rural economy here in Wales.

“Leadership falls to all of us in this room today. To build on the noteworthy gains that have been made by our industry over the years. To ensure that we move forward together to protect an industry in which the farmers of today and tomorrow can continue to operate the profitable enterprises that sustain our economy; and are rewarded for positive sustainability outcomes.

“Together we are leading the world in sustainable premium red meat production. It mustn’t stop there. Together we can drive forward this great industry and ensure our children have fantastic farming futures in 20 years’ time.”