Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has confirmed that work across the agriculture and food industry to lengthen the average shelf life of PGI Welsh Lamb is continuing to pay dividends.

Increasing shelf life has been identified as a key driver in helping Welsh Lamb’s competitiveness in the domestic retail market, and in attracting new export customers.

During 2020-2021, the sector achieved an improvement of 10%, despite the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, to an average of 36.5 days.

The progress comes on top of a 16% improvement in 2019-20. Previously, shelf life figures ranged from around 21 to 28 days.

HCC has worked at all stages of the supply chain. This has included collaborating with processors in recent months to hold virtual workshops with farmers to discuss best practice.

"As it has become ever more important to export to markets outside of Europe, improving shelf life is an important strategic aim," said HCC industry development and relations manager John Richards.

He explained:

“The shelf life figure varies somewhat between different cuts; some products now have a shelf life of significantly longer than a month, which is a great help in attracting new export customers.

However, extending shelf life also helps in being able to achieve a consistent year-round supply to retailers in Britain, so it’s doubly pleasing to see this continued improvement.

“Hundreds of farmers and agriculture students have attended our free courses on presenting livestock for slaughter in recent years, and we’ve been able to continue this work virtually this year with the help of processors.

"This ongoing work is also an important part of our Welsh Lamb Meat Quality project, which is part of the EU and Welsh government funded Red Meat Development Programme," he concluded.