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Best in Season British Lamb Deserves Backing

12 July 2013
National Farmers Union

UK - The British National Farmers' Union is urging all retailers to support British farming and show more commitment to sourcing new season British lamb.

Figures obtained from EBLEX suggest that although some retailers have boosted the proportion of British lamb sourced in the last quarter, others are still choosing to stock New Zealand lamb.

This is despite a growing appetite by British consumers for more home grown food and 11 per cent more British lambs coming to market compared to this time last year with numbers comparable to 2011 levels.

Based on the figures, Morrison’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi have come in for praise from the NFU for all having stocked over 75 per cent British lamb in the last quarter while other retailers including the Co-Operative and Tesco have disappointing levels of British lamb on their shelves, only reaching levels of around 20 per cent home sourced.

The poor spring delayed the normal marketing pattern for lambs later into the season and has left many producers facing a substantially higher feed bill to get the lambs ready for market. But with new season British lamb now readily available, NFU President, Peter Kendall, believes it should be at the centre of any supermarket display as ‘best in season’.

“Whatever the level of supply of British lamb available, all retailers are in the same boat in terms of obtaining supplies. Yet it’s clear that Morrison’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi have done far better than others,” said Mr Kendall. “Although the decisions to source New Zealand lamb were taken last year, it is particularly disappointing to see the figures for Tesco who, despite re-affirming their pledge to source more of their meat ‘closer to home’, are shown to have stocked only around 20 per cent UK sourced lamb in the last quarter even though British lamb is now at its freshest and tastiest.

“British farmers expect retailers to be marketing British lamb to the consumer as ‘Best in Season’ at the moment, not continuing to sell mature New Zealand lamb in place of tender, new season lamb produced right here in the UK. British food is in demand and we expect that retailers who have traded on their support of British farming follow this through in their sourcing decisions across all product lines to ensure there is more British food on more British plates.

“Our sheep farmers, particularly those in the uplands, have faced a challenging year and this is a time when they need a confidence boost from their major customers – the UK supermarkets. While there have been some improvements, it’s clear that more needs to be done and the NFU remains committed to working with all retailers to improve their commitment to sourcing British. In looking to next year it is vital that decisions taken now reflect the commitments made to British farmers in recent months.”

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