Wales’ meat promotion body will have a new head – and its first woman leader – from April this year.

Catherine Smith, a board member of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) – the statutory body responsible for the promotion and development of lamb, beef and pork from Wales – will take over from incumbent chair Kevin Roberts on April 1.

Catherine is a food business consultant with more than 20 years’ experience in the red meat sector in procurement, processing and manufacturing. She is also a farmer’s daughter and wife, who lives with her husband and three children on a mixed farm in Monmouthshire.

She will be the first woman to take on the role since the formation of HCC in 2003.

The appointment was announced by rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths.

The minister said: “I would like to congratulate Catherine Smith for her upcoming appointment to the role of chair at Hybu Cig Cymru – and would also like to thank outgoing chair Kevin Roberts for all his work in the role.

“Catherine brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked within the red meat supply chain for two decades and served as a board member since 2017.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce Catherine as the incoming chair, particularly given she will be the first woman to come into the role – and I hope her appointment reflects wider trends in business across Wales, especially within the agricultural sector.

“She comes into the role at an especially difficult time, with the red meat sector responding both to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the complexity brought about as a result of the recent end of the EU transition period.”

Catherine graduated in 2000 with a first-class honours degree in food and consumer management from Birmingham University. Through her business consultancy she provides strategic leadership, staff development, project management, technical and operational guidance for manufacturers and processors.

Her current role on the board of HCC include chairing of the HCC flock and herd health and welfare working group and serving on the audit and communications committees.

Catherine said: “Having grown up in a farming family, and worked in the food sector for 20 years, I’m very proud to be appointed as chair of Hybu Cig Cymru.

“My priority will be to deliver for our levy-payers; farmers and processors. This will mean building our red meat brands using inventive and effective marketing, helping our industry to be as profitable as possible, and aiming to lead the world in terms of quality and sustainability.

“HCC has responded to the challenges of EU transition and the Covid-19 pandemic with flexibility, determination and innovation. Building on these strengths the organisation will continue to deliver on the priorities set out in Vision 2025 and support the industry to build its profitability and resilience whilst working closely with Welsh Government and all stakeholders within the supply chain.”

Kevin Roberts, outgoing chair of HCC, said: "The past few years have certainly had their challenges from issues outside our control.

“I'm proud of the way HCC has responded, growing exports of Welsh lamb and Welsh beef significantly despite the uncertainty of Brexit, and playing its part in driving a major growth in domestic retail sales to help both farmers and consumers during the Covid pandemic.

"I wish Catherine well in taking over as chair during the next exciting period for our sector."