The deal will see branded, skin-packed PGI (protected geographical indication) Welsh Lamb sold nationwide in Canada. Four retailers will stock the specialist meat: Loblaws will sell lamb in Ontario; Provigo outlets will trade in Quebec; and certain stores at Your Independent Grocer and Zehr’s will stock Welsh lamb.
All of the retailers are subsidiaries of Loblaw Companies, which claims to be one of Canada’s largest food distributors.
GlobalMeatNews can exclusively reveal that Welsh meat processor Randall Parker Food has signed the deal to supply meat to Loblaws.
‘A great coup’
“This deal is very significant; we’ve been working on exporting vacuum-packed chilled lamb cuts to Canada since 2011 and that was going into HORECA (hotels, restaurants and catering) and a small amount into retail in serve-over counters,” said Graham Penny, sales director at Randall Parker Foods. “But to actually get a retail-pack product that was produced and created in this country, exported directly to the retailer is a great coup – we’re the first ones to do it.”
Penny added that the deal may lead to new jobs in the Welsh meat industry.
“Canada has been an important target market for HCC and our partners in the Welsh red meat industry for some time,” said Deanna Leven, HCC’s export development executive.
She added: “This news is therefore a major step forward in the Canadian retail market. It’s hugely significant for the Welsh Lamb industry to see these new products available in 300 stores countrywide, and for a major supermarket chain to be working with us to hold promotions in-store and on online platforms such as Instagram.”
All of the supermarkets stocking Welsh Lamb will hold taste promotion activities in partnership with HCC to encourage lamb consumption in Canada. Lamb trails behind chicken, beef and pork in terms of popularity has one of the lowest consumption rates per capita in Canada’s meat industry. In 2015, consumption stood at 1.04kg per person – only veal had a lower rate, according to the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Help with UK-US lamb deal
On 1 and 2 October customers at Loblaws Forest Hill Market, Toronto, joined Leven and Kevin McGurgan, consul-general and director-general for UK trade and investment in Toronto, who celebrated the breakthrough for Welsh lamb.
“The reaction so far among consumers has been extremely positive,” said Leven. “There’s been an excited reaction online among Welsh expats and food fans, who are delighted that PGI welsh Lamb is going to be far more widely-available in Canada. This is also a great opportunity to raise awareness of the product in north America, given the potential opening of the US market in the future.”
In July, this site reported that the US and UK were edging closer to a £35m deal that would see the Obama administration lift trade restrictions on imports of British lamb. Officials at UK levy board AHDB Beef & Lamb are hoping a deal can be done by 2017, paving the way for a surge in UK lamb exports to the US.
On whether the deal to supply Canada with lamb will help with the UK-US deal, Graham Penny said: "We’re doing exactly as we’re required to do by the Canadian import authorities. If the US see us doing that, then they can only see that we’re doing something right in North America”.