Welsh meat exporters are expecting to see new growth opportunities in the Middle East driven by a rise in consumption of red meat even as consumption rates decline elsewhere.

Rhys Llywelyn, market development manager of Meat Promotion Wales, the body responsible for developing and promoting Welsh red meat, blamed that decline in consumption in Europe on “unfounded press” on the detrimental health effects of red meat.

He said that processed meat is what tends to be unhealthy rather than fresh meat, and pointed to environmental lobbies that say that the production of red meat is unsustainable.

“We’re very confident in Wales that we produce lamb very sustainably,” he said, adding that despite the “noise” about veganism, the number of vegans remains marginal.

A study by the Vegan Society in the UK in May 2016 found that the number of those who say they are vegan in Britain jumped to 542,000 from 150,000 in the span of a decade. Other data on the Vegan Society’s website shows that demand for meat-free food jumped by 987 per cent in 2017, with veganism being a big trend in 2018.