Farmers and food producers in Wales may suffer after Brexit if their lamb and beef is marketed under the union flag rather than with specific Welsh branding, industry chiefs have said.
The body that markets Welsh lamb and beef has expressed concern that in some parts of the world UK red meat is viewed negatively. It is keen to make sure that after Britain leaves the EU there will be a clear way to differentiate between Welsh red meat and the UK-wide product.
The use of UK branding within the food and drinks is a sensitive issue in Wales and was highlighted at last year’s Royal Welsh Show, when Lesley Griffiths, the rural affairs minister, expressed concern over the proliferation of union flags – and lack of Welsh dragon flags.
On Tuesday, Gwyn Howells, the chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales – suggested British branding on products such as lamb and beef, which are worth £200m a year in exports, could put the Welsh industry at a disadvantage.
He said: “The Welsh brand has been developed over a number of years for lamb and beef, and is widely recognised in the retail and food service industry in a number of key markets in Europe, Asia and north America.
“There are a number of advantages in using the Welsh food brand, in that it enables us to tell a distinctive story about the quality and provenance of our product. It enables us to differentiate Welsh lamb and Welsh beef as a premium product.
“We are aware of research that suggests that there are some negative connotations to the UK food brand in some parts of the world, particularly in the context of red meat.”
The UK government has said products such as Welsh lamb that have European GI (geographical indication) status will get UK GI status after Brexit. To be compatible with World Trade Organization rules, the scheme will have to be UK-wide.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs said: “The UK government has already set out how our schemes will work when we have left the EU, and been clear existing UK products registered under EU GI schemes, from Welsh lamb to Anglesey sea salt, will automatically get UK GI status, ensuring their unique heritage and quality is safeguarded.”
But it said producers would be free to add in other branding. “In addition to the new UK GI logo, producers can add additional labels, such as the red dragon, at their discretion.”
Welsh sheep farmers fear post-Brexit British branding – The Guardian