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FWU Welcomes Possible 3M Boost For Sheep Meat Sector

Research indicating the legal production of skin-on sheep meat – commonly known as “smokies” – could be worth more than 3m to the Welsh red meat industry was welcomed today by the Farmers Union of Wales.

The production of smokies is illegal in the UK but the financial potential if legalised is outlined ina new report produced on behalf of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales for the Food Standards Agency in Wales.

“The FUW has long campaigned against the illegal trade in smokies, and was one of the first organisations to support the FSAs research into making their production legal,” said the unions president Gareth Vaughan.

“We have been well aware for several years that there is a demand for this type of skin-on-meat amongst certain communities, but we remain concerned that until now the only way this demand can be met is via illegal means.

“The manner in which this meat is currently produced in unlicensed and unhygienic conditions not only puts the health of the customer at risk but also does farmers no favours.

“So we welcome this latest news that the research results are so positive. If the EU agrees, then skin-on-meat could soon be produced under clean conditions in licensed abattoirs and sold openly to those customers who want this type of meat.

“It will be good news for Welsh sheep farmers, who will have the opportunity to add value to their older sheep as a new market place opens up for them. I hope the EC will look favourably on the research results and give the go-ahead for the legal production of smokies at the earliest opportunity,” said Mr Vaughan.

Research has already indicated that skin-on sheep meat could be produced safely and hygienically in approved abattoirs. The report estimates that 155,000 cull ewe carcasses could be used for the new product every year.

The average retail value of skin-on sheep meat would be approximately 20 above the average retail price for a conventional mutton carcase. This works out at an additional 3.1m in income per year.

The smaller to medium sized abattoirs likely to get involved would have to invest in new equipment, including singers and washers, estimated to cost approximately 75,000 per premises.

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