Posts Tagged ‘HCC’

Hybu Cig Cymru & PGI, Protected Geographical Indication

12 Jun


I have taken HCC to task on many occasions, but most certainly on their weak promotion of PGI, which is Protected Geographical Indication.  Some time ago, HCC ran a national advertising campaign showing the PGI logo, but my issue with them was who knew what that logo meant? Obviously their national advertising campaign was aimed at Joe Public, but I felt, as I still do very strongly, that readers across the UK would be clueless, should they even read the advert and know what the logo meant.

But I was further annoyed this morning when Ian told me he’d been talking to a Welsh butcher, who in welshfoodbites tradtion will be nameless, who had no idea what PGI meant – can you believe that? But deviating ever so slightly, I’ve asked HCC to supply me with a list of butchers in Wales, but they were unable to do so. With further prompting, HCC informed me that butchers have to tell HCC they exist and are trading, but even when this happens I’m told by butchers they still do not get the promtional material that HCC shout that they deliver. Perhaps this particular butcher is just another one that has fallen through HCC’s wide-holed net, so why would he know nothing about PGI, but it’s also not very helpful is it? I felt that I was wasting my time complaining to HCC about my view that Joe Public has no idea what PGI is all about then, so you’ll surely understand how I’m feeling about a Welsh butcher knowing nothing about PGI………………..

Actually Welsh Country magazine, with a very strong local food flavour, well about 10 pages of it, I am wondering how many of our passionate foodie readers would know what PGI means, I’m guessing not a lot of them.

Apparently Welsh lamb and beef were given PGI status by the European Commission in July 2003 and November 2002 respectively, however it is only of late that we some of us have heard much about it.  The main requirements of PGI Welsh lamb and PGI Welsh beef are that animals must be: born and reared in Wales; fully traceable; and slaughtered and processed in an HCC approved abattoir/cutting plant.

I’m rather disappointed that in this PGI saga, that seemingly nothing has improved, certainly for our side.

WCM has quite a few Welsh butchers supporting us on our Best Of Welsh & Borders listing so please don’t expect me to stop working or fighting on their behalf. But I do find it annoying that HCC and WCM cannot work together and help the people that matter, our brilliant butchers and marvellous meat producers. Instead HCC seemed focused on the overseas markets, which is fine, but it not their sole reason for being or their sole reason for getting funding.


Horsemeat Update

25 Apr

Yesterday I received a press release from HCC, Hybu Cig Cymru which follows: A new poll has revealed that the horsemeat scandal has changed consumer shopping behaviour, with more than seven out of 10 consumers now stating that they care more about the origin of their meat. The meat origin survey was launched by PGI Welsh Lamb to find out whether the horsemeat scandal had impacted upon consumer opinion and purchasing habits.

The survey revealed that 71 per cent of consumers now actively seek out origin labels on meat compared to 48 per cent before news of the scandal broke, with one in five stating they were now less likely to buy meat from the supermarket. By comparison, 37 per cent said they were more likely to buy meat from a local butcher.

Philippa Gill, Brand Marketing Officer with red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru – the organisation behind PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef – said: “The one positive impact of the horsemeat scandal is that it has increased consumer awareness about where the meat they are buying is from. The survey shows that consumers are now significantly more likely to care about the origin of meat. This has converted into a shift in consumer behaviour with nearly three quarters of consumers now actively seeking out origin labels.”

The meat origin survey also revealed that 86 per cent of consumers would like greater assurance of where their meat is from and that it is of guaranteed quality. HCC is running a national campaign to raise awareness of PGI, which stands for Protected Geographical Indication, the EU food status which guarantees full traceability and authenticity of a product. In addition, HCC is appealing to consumers to “Look for the Logos” in a campaign run in butchers and other retailers to demonstrate how the PGI status offers this origin guarantee for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef. Nearly six per cent of all food and drink purchased in the UK already holds either the PGI or PDO (Protected Designated Origin) status, slightly ahead of the European average.

In the PGI Welsh Lamb poll, nearly 80 per cent were reassured by this statistic and believed that more products should be labelled to highlight their origin.

Mrs Gill said: “Consumers can rely on the PGI label as a cast-iron guarantee of the origin of the product that bears its blue and yellow label. For example, PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef can be traced all the way back through the supply chain to the farm, which offers consumers the guarantee of origin that they are currently looking for.”

There are currently 30 products in the UK which have PGI status with at least another 20 going through the official application process. PGI products include Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, the Cumberland Sausage and Newmarket Sausage, as well as Whitstable Oysters, Cornish Sardines and the Arbroath Smokie.

Well congratulations HCC you’ve now taken on board what we have been saying for some time which is that the Welsh public generally haven’t a clue what PGI status is and cannot recognise their logo. It was a pleasure to point you in the right direction. I will not bother to waste further energy asking what HCC mean by a ‘national campaign to raise awareness of PGI’ my readers are well aware of my views of these campaigns and what little value I attach to them.

Sadly Ian and I have no knowledge of this survey, and bearing in mind that we rate most survey’s as pointless and expensive, we are puzzled how this PR slipped through our net. Ian contacted HCC’s PR company Golley Slater and we were told it had been sent to us……………but at least they did re-send it. Again press releases follows:

Consumers quizzed over meat origin opinions PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef have launched a survey to canvas consumer opinion about meat origins. Consumers are being urged to complete the survey to give an insight about whether the horsemeat scandal has impacted their perceptions about meat. The survey asks consumers how much of an interest they took in the origin of meat and if they looked for food origin labels before the scandal compared to now. It goes on to ask if their consumption habits have changed to see if consumers are buying more meat from a local butcher compared to the supermarket.

Pip Gill, of Hybu Cig Cymru – the organisation behind PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef, said: “We’d like to invite as many consumers as possible to fill in our short poll which will give us an insight into meat purchasing behaviour and whether this is changing. Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef have been awarded the European PGI status which means that its origin is guaranteed. The stringent requirements mean that, legally, only lambs which have been born and reared in Wales to specified high standards and slaughtered in an approved abattoir can be labelled ‘Welsh Lamb’. The blue and yellow PGI label on every packet of Welsh Lamb acts as a stamp of authenticity so you can guarantee that the product you are buying is exactly as described and is fully traceable. We believe that if consumers are becoming more concerned about the origin of meat, this label provides peace of mind for them. We are activity campaigning to raise consumer awareness of the PGI label to help provide this quality assurance and origin guarantee.”

Apparently this was only a short online poll conducted to get a snapshot into consumer shopping behaviours following the horsemeat scandal. In total, 309 people completed the survey from all over the UK, which enabled this snapshot to be provided.

I cannot see that 309 people from all over the UK really makes any news worth shouting about. I would have thought that the way the horse meat story has been carried out so extensively in all media, that the majority of people have at last begun to think where their meat comes from. If HCC then helped independent butchers on promotion we might make more progress. More importantly though, if a poll is sent through to people and they have no interest in it, then they are very unlikely to complete it, which in my view makes the poll more than biased. Just think of the number of times when you’re on the web and the site asks you for a few minutes of our time to fill in their questionnaire, how many of us do it unless we are really interested or there is a good incentive to do so? Very few……………………????

Any way to see for yourself what was asked please visit:


Pork Takes Centre Stage Say HCC

08 Mar

I’ve just been told by HCC, Hybu Cig Cymru, that pork takes centre stage, when in my view Welsh pork has never even been on HCC’s stage. In fairness I do have to congratulate HCC for being better late than never in recognising that Wales does have pork producers. That’s great news after all my hard work for posting on this topic, but there’s no need to thank me HCC, I enjoy helping you, really I do!!!!

Now back to pork and the gist of the news from HCC is that they have now produced a recipe booklet that highlights how pork can be easily combined with flavours from around the world. Apparently this booklet is available at independent Welsh butchers and multiple retailers. But don’t forget that HCC can obviously only send their booklet to those Welsh butchers that have contacted HCC to tell them they exist.

I’ve spent considerable time asking HCC for the number of independent butchers in Wales, but they can’t give me this information, so make from that what you will! Welsh Country magazine has pork producers with us on our Best Of Welsh & Borders listing, and they are not happy that HCC have ignored them for so long whilst they focus on Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb. You’ll no doubt we aware that Wales has PGI logos for beef and lamb, but nothing for pork, hence it’s not been a priority for HCC, only for our pork producers. HCC say they have produced this brochure for retailers as part of their campaign to support the Welsh pig industry – well I’m sure I will not be alone in saying about time too, but many thanks.

HCC believe that shoppers will be inspired by this booklet and then support their local pork producers, well only time will tell on that one, but as I’ve already said, at last HCC are doing something for Welsh pork.

The press release from HCC arrived this morning and was promptly sent around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers that are involved in the Welsh meat sector. But within the hour we had an email back from one butcher asking if we had this in pdf format!!! Not sure why as yet, but it doesn’t sound to me as though he’s received a supply……………………………………..


Well Guys – Look For The Logos

20 Feb

This morning I have received the following press release from HCC:

Shoppers will be urged to ‘Look for the Logos’ as retailers across the country join a campaign for the clearer labelling of meat.

Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru will be distributing more than 350 ‘Look for the Logos’ posters to retailers across Wales, encouraging consumers to make sure that they only buy premium quality Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb.

HCC Chairman Dai Davies said: “The horsemeat scandal has underlined the need for clear and honest labelling in the food sector. We are extremely fortunate in Wales because both Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb have been granted Protected Geographical Indication status by the European Union. What that means in practice is that only sheep and cattle born and reared in Wales and slaughtered in HCC-approved abattoirs can be described as Welsh Lamb or Welsh Beef. If anyone describes their beef or lamb as ‘Welsh’ and fails to display the PGI logo, they are breaking the law and can be prosecuted.

That’s why we are urging consumers to look for the Welsh Beef, Welsh Lamb and PGI logos when they visit their local butcher or supermarket. These logos serve as a guarantee of the authenticity of the provenance of the meat, providing shoppers with the reassurance that they need.”

The posters display the Welsh Beef, Welsh Lamb and PGI logos. The PGI logo must be displayed on meat that contains either Welsh Beef or Welsh Lamb.

This poster campaign must count as doing something HCC, so well done for actually doing something. I’m not convinced a poster campaign, and 350 posters doesn’t sound a lot to me, bearing in mind that HCC have already admitted that they cannot provide me with the number of independent butchers there are in Wales. But can I assume that HCC know where all the supermarkets are? Surely even HCC can find that information. I am pleased that our Deputy Minister Alun Davies has urged consumers to look for logos when they visit their local butcher – or supermarket,  is my message getting through? I’d like to think so but will need to see much more than I have so far. My concern for local butchers and local producers continues and I only wish that the HCC shared more of my concern and did more for these two groups.

To help HCC get their logo message out further, we’ve sent their press release out to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers.  Maybe they’ll be more impressed than I am, I just want HCC to do much more ………….


Support For Welsh Abattoirs Must Remain

19 Feb

If any of you are getting bored or are unconcerned about the ongoing horsemeat scandal, I apologise for my frequent posts. However I will not stop and keep posting until I see from my side, more progress being made. My reasons for doing this are manyfold, Welsh Country magazine is passionate about local food, devoting 10 pages or so each issue. We haven’t had advertising support from wag food since 2010, we’ve been trying to work with HCC for eight but to no avail. But when we get advertisers working with us – we work for them, giving any additional support we can, which is just what happens with our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers list, BOW which is published in every issue of Welsh Country magazine. We have many butchers with us on BOW and it is their corner I’m fighting, behind the scenes with wag and HCC and on welshfoodbites and if needs be in Welsh Country magazine too. I always try in Welsh Country magazine to put out a positive food message to our readers, but I also feel they need to know the truth, especially on stories like horsemeat.

It is vital that HCC and wag food send out a positive message and explain to the Welsh public what an excellent job our local butchers and abattoirs are doing. Then, when they have done that – they carry on doing it – for ever. Welsh public confidence has to be restored and doing nothing HCC is not going to achieve that. Follows is an interesting statement that has been sent through to me and sure many readers will find it of interest.

The Shadow Minister for Environment has hailed the continued hard work of Welsh abattoirs and called for support and confidence in them to remain throughout the current horsemeat scandal.

Montgomeryshire Assembly Member Russell George has tabled a Statement of Opinion asking the National Assembly to acknowledge the exceptional production standards of abattoirs and recognise the fundamental role they continue to hold as exemplars of animal welfare standards, food labelling and food traceability. His actions come amid concerns from small businesses in Mid Wales regarding the perception of abattoirs as developments in the Food Standards Agency’s investigation into the presence of horsemeat in beef products continues.

Mr George said, “The investigation into this scandal must be thorough and those who have been complicit in deceiving the public must be brought to justice. While this work continues, it is important to remember and recognise the extremely hard work of small Welsh abattoirs who continue to set exceptionally high standards. Amid on-going and understandable public worry, it is vital that we do not forget these businesses and continue to have faith in their abilities to provide a first-class service. We must ensure that the illegal behaviour of a minority does not affect the prestigious reputation of Welsh food.”

Antoinette Sandbach AM, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, said, “It is vital that Welsh Ministers work closely with the UK Government to keep the public fully informed throughout these on-going investigations. Illegal and deceptive practices must be stamped out and I have absolute faith that this will happen in the long-term. Public confidence in our abattoirs, many of which are small businesses, should not be shaken at this time. Their exceptional work and produce remain a source of great Welsh pride and I hope all Assembly Members recognise this by signing the statement of opinion.”




Clear Guidance HCC – Where Is It?

18 Feb

I’m intrigued to know what plan of action HCC are working on to help our butchers and inform and re-assure the Welsh public about the horsemeat fiasco. But maybe I’m just being silly by assuming that HCC are working on a plan! I have no idea how HCC are going to calm and assure the Welsh public, but it is certainly a job that needs doing and should have been done ages ago as this horsemeat fiasco continues, I also want to now how they are going to convince those in the industry that they have an action plan, but do they? This story is NOT going to go way, and most of us are convinced it is going to get worse, but HCC must do more to reassure the public and help the meat trade that is paying their wages.

True to their press release, the NFU did take adverts in national newspapers. In case you didn’t see any let me update you . I saw the Daily Mail on Saturday and saw two consecutive half page adverts. The first was headed – Leading The Way In High Standards, Great British Farmers Are Proud To Produce Great British Food – Buy British. The second advert was headlined with three different logos and Quality Assured. It stated: All fresh beef, lamb, pork or bacon that carries the Red Tractor or Quality Standard labels meets high production standards and is fully traceable back to independently inspected farms in the UK. It’s the easiest way to be sure of the provenance of the meat you’re buying. Plus there was no chance of readers missing the Union Jack flag either!!!

So the NFU are now getting a positive message out to the public which is something and so needed. Of course I’d have liked them to do it earlier as this scandal rumbles on, but then I’m not called impatient Kath for nothing! I’m just grateful the NFU are not ignoring this situation. However I’m still not convinced the public understands the ‘assured food standards’ label. My view is that this logo message needs to be continued and hammered through to the public long and hard, until it is as identifiable as say some national food chain logos! My other concern is their Red Tractor logo, which I understand only applies to meat in the supermarkets. Of course the supermarkets would be well looked after wouldn’t they? But how about looking after the local butchers by focusing on them too?  Don’t they deserve your support too?



Horsemeat Raid

13 Feb

Gosh HCC are busy! I’ve received yet another press release/statement from them this morning, which follow in full:

As a result of a joint investigation by the police and the Food Standards Agency, the following statement has been issued by Dai Davies, Chairman of red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru.

“We are shocked by the news that horse carcases slaughtered outside Wales have been discovered at a premises in Ceredigion and that they may have entered the human food chain incorrectly labelled as beef burgers or kebabs,” said Mr Davies. “This is a disturbing development in the ongoing horsemeat scandal, and Hybu Cig Cymru offers the police and the Food Standards Agency our full support to find the truth during this investigation.”

The latest horsemeat news focuses on Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse, in Todmorden, west Yorkshire and Farmbox Meats Ltd, of Llandre near Aberystwyth. The west Yorkshire plant was thought to have supplied horse carcasses to the Aberystwyth firm, which were then allegedly sold on as beef for kebabs and burgers. Both premises were raided by Food Standard Agency, (FSA) officials and supported by police. FSA suspended operations at both premises and seized paperwork.

Andrew Rhodes, FSA stated: “We’ll keep pursuing this until there is nothing left to find”

Well I’m sure that this story will keep running. I’m sure we are nowhere near the bottom of the barrel yet. Of course the FSA will continue their investigations into horsemeat mislabelling, just prepare yourselves for more and more news. As matters develop I will post further.

I can only hope that HCC don’t go into hiding, but use this horsemeat fiasco to push and promote our independent butchers and producers – it’s part of their job, now I want to see them do it and support these guys.



HCC – Wakey, Wakey, Wakey

12 Feb

Following yesterday’s post, HCC appear to have woken up – well at least partially! This morning I have received another press release from them and I have taken the trouble to share part of it with you as follows:

Shoppers advised to ‘Look for the Logos’

Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru is advising shoppers to ‘Look for the Logos’ when they go shopping to ensure they get what it says on the packet.

Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef both have the European Union’s coveted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) mark.

PGI guarantees that only lamb and beef which has come from livestock born and reared in Wales and slaughtered and processed at an approved abattoir or processor can be called Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Any product containing authentic Welsh Lamb or Welsh Beef will be labelled with the PGI mark and the Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef logos.

HCC’s Chairman, Dai Davies, said “Many shoppers may have lost confidence in some processed meat products in light of the horsemeat scandal.

“This is why we are encouraging everyone who wants a quality, authentic product to look for the logos for PGI and Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef. If you see these logos on a product you can be assured that you are getting what you are buying.”

Welsh butchers state that their customers are looking for the reassurance that comes with buying Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Well better late than never is my verdict on this press release. I’d have preferred a proactive approach rather than a reactive one, but I guess that HCC struggles with being proactive. HCC should have jumped on this horsemeat fiasco right at the start, no-one expected this scandal to have run for so long but they should have bitten the bullet at the beginning and done some sensible promotion and marketing to help our independent butchers take advantage of this sorry situation.

HCC can talk about ‘the European Union’s coveted Protected Geographical Indication, PGI mark but I still maintain the Welsh public really have no idea what this mark means. There’s a big job to be done to promote the PGI mark on this and HCC in my view have not got the message through. Do the Welsh public know that animals brought over from Ireland and then slaughtered in Wales are then classified as Welsh meat?

Hopefully our independent butchers will make the most of this massive opportunity, with or without HCC’s support.



Press Release On Horsemeat From HCC

11 Feb

The horsemeat scandal continues to progress and as I wonder if it can get worse, well blow me it does! This scandal will run and run and hopefully prosecutions will follow and our profitable supermarkets will explain why they put their profit first, seemingly to have sloppy, if any proper checks in place to ensure what they say on their packets is exactly what the product/ready meal contains.

I was waiting impatiently for a press release from HCC and on 8th February this is what HCC had to say:

Those responsible for the contamination of processed beef products with horsemeat are betraying the entire food industry, according to red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru.

“Following the latest revelation that some consignments of Findus lasagne contained up to 100 per cent horsemeat, it is obvious that there has either been a catastrophic failure of quality control during the manufacturing process or it is as a result of a deliberate criminal act,” said HCC Chairman Dai Davies.

The Food Standards Agency has said that it was ‘highly likely’ that criminal activity was responsible for the contamination. The products were supplied by Comigel, a French meat supplier based in Metz.

Mr Davies said: “I believe that regardless of whether it was a deliberate or accidental act, those responsible should be prosecuted.

“It is clear there has been an unacceptable breakdown in the manufacture of these processed foods which must be fully investigated by the authorities to ensure that it does not happen again. When consumers buy any food product it is only right that they get exactly what is described on the box. The great shame about this incident is that it could undermine consumer confidence in the entire food chain when the truth is that here in the UK we have one of the most tightly regulated farming industries in the world.”

Well better late than never was my first reaction, until I read their words of ‘wisdom’ – then I was totally puzzled and cross. Why would they put out a press release without shouting long and hard about the job they are well paid to do, which is to promote Welsh meat? Why haven’t they taken this golden opportunity to promote Welsh independent butchers, well those HCC know about? Why haven’t they used the horsemeat scandal to promote local and farmers’ markets? Well your answers will no doubt be as good as mine, HCC appear to be far too cosy with the supermarkets and our dwindling numbers of independent butchers don’t seem to matter too much to those at HCC.

I struggle to understand why HCC with its own promotion and marketing people didn’t get a grip on this when the story first broke weeks ago and made the most of this wonderful opportunity which has actually been given to them. Life methinks is far too comfy at HCC………………………….


Do I Qualify As HCC’S Secret Shopper?

05 Feb

My sole purpose for calling into Tesco store at Haverfordwest last weekend was to check out Welsh meat prices. A pack of Welsh lamb was priced up at £4.50 and the exact same pack of New Zealand lamb was £3.33. A British leg of lamb was priced up at £10.00 whilst a similar pack of Welsh leg of lamb was £12.00. British casserole beef,  500gm packs, were priced at three packs for £10.00, whilst a single pack of 485gms was priced at £4.85.

My stance and my worry, is for our Welsh independent butchers, especially those that are working with us through our Best Of Welsh & Borders mailing list, BOW and although farmers have NFU and FUW fighting their corner, this situation is simply not acceptable.

Are HCC, Hybu Cig Cymru,  really expecting Welsh families, especially in the continued economic downturn, to somehow find the extra money just to support Welsh farmers and butchers? Or am I nearer the truth when I believe that HCC appear to be unconcerned about the plight of Welsh independent butchers and our Welsh farmers,  but guess their salaries are safe……….