Lamb and beef exports from Wales were worth £140million to the economy in 2009, an increase of more than £30million over the previous year.

The figure was released by Welsh red meat promotion body Hybu Cig Cymru during the Alimentaria international food fair in Barcelona.

The news comes hot on the heels of figures published last week that showed Welsh lamb exports alone had topped £109m in 2009, a year-on-year increase of 20%.

“The hugely impressive export figures for Welsh lamb clearly demonstrate that it is now a world-class brand,” said HCC’s market development manager Bill Joyce.

“The new figures released by us today, which include the export value of beef, show that the red meat industry as a whole is a major contributor to the Welsh economy.

“Part of that success is down to our attendance at international shows such as Alimentaria which enables us to demonstrate the quality and versatility of Welsh lamb and also gives our partners in the meat processing industry the opportunity to make contact with potential new customers from across the world.

“HCC has been working hard with all sections of the Welsh red meat chain to increase exports, and it is extremely satisfying to see that work paying off.”

In 2008, total exports of Welsh lamb and Welsh beef were valued at £109m. In 2009, Welsh lamb alone accounted for more than £109m of exports earnings, with Welsh beef adding a further £31m.

France imported £77m worth of Welsh lamb in 2009, making it the largest single market. Belgium, Italy and Germany were also major importers of Welsh lamb last year, while Portugal doubled the value of its trade.

Demand is growing in the Middle and Far East. Since 2007, for example, the amount of Welsh lamb exported to Hong Kong has grown from virtually nil to be worth £500,000 last year. It now features on the menus of some of the leading hotels and restaurants in the region.

Dubai also increased its orders for Welsh lamb by more than 75%in 2009.