New HCC chair aims to build on strong sustainable Welsh brand

Determination to deliver for Wales’ producers and processors, and drive forward the country’s flagship red meat brands is a pledge to the industry from Catherine Smith, who takes over the Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Chair on April 1.

Smith, who takes over from Kevin Roberts, has served on Wales’s red meat levy board since 2017, and will draw on her farming background in Monmouthshire and 20 years of experience as a food business specialist advising companies throughout the red meat supply chain.

On taking the role Smith stressed that while recent months have brought challenges in the shape of Covid-19 and the Brexit transition, Wales’s lamb, beef and pork sectors were in a strong position to deliver what the modern consumer wants – high quality food, traceable from farm to fork, with impeccable credentials of sustainability and welfare.

Smith said: “I’m proud to take over as chair of HCC at this vital time for the food and farming industry, and I’m looking forward to working with Gwyn Howells and his executive team to deliver for our stakeholders.

“I see all parts of the industry on a daily basis – at home on our mixed sheep and arable farm and working with supply chain businesses to make them more competitive, more efficient and able to attract and retain new and existing customers.”

“HCC is an industry-led body which encompasses the whole supply chain, and I see the closest collaboration of all links in the chain as vital.”

‘We can punch well above our weight’

“We’re a small country, but we can punch well above our weight with a unified approach,” she added.

HCC has been agile in leading our industry response to the challenges that Covid-19 and Brexit have brought – helping to increase domestic retail sales and retaining export markets despite the uncertainty of the past four years.

She explained: “We have the opportunity now to push ahead, with our Vision 2025 blueprint as our guide; helping the domestic foodservice sector to rebuild after Covid-19, while expanding into new and promising markets and delivering our Red Meat Development Programme.

“Wales has the potential to lead the world in sustainable lamb and beef production,” she said. “HCC’s ‘Welsh Way’ report showed that we already produce food far more sustainably than many other countries.

We can get even better and lead the world in this area.

“This is what our customers demand and we’re in a great position to meet this challenge.”