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New Zealand Farmers Hit Back over British Protests

23 July 2014

NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand sheep farmers have hit out at protests by British farmers over the promotion of New Zealand lamb by the supermarket chain Tesco.

The National Farmers Union launched a protest at the Royal Welsh Show this week and has complained that the supermarket chain was promoting New Zealand product instead of British lamb.

Now, Federated Farmers in New Zealand have said that NFU is heading down the wrong track by attacking New Zealand lamb and should instead work with New Zealand to boost British lamb consumption.

“Using pity doesn’t strike us as the best way to motivate British consumers to ditch free range grass fed New Zealand lamb for British lamb,” said Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“Kiwi lamb is not only grown with a much lower carbon footprint than British lamb, but is cheaper in Britain despite being unsubsidised. Being naturally biased, I consider our lamb to have the best taste profile of any lamb on earth.

“If you reverse these arguments as applying to British lamb, it is not exactly a winning argument. It also misses an essential truth.

“New Zealand lamb isn’t the competition but Pork, Chicken, Fish and other meat proteins are.

“In Britain, between 2000 and 2012, beef, pig and poultry consumption grew as did total British meat consumption. The problem for British and Kiwi farmers alike is that British lamb consumption fell from 368,000 tonnes in 2008 to 277,000 tonnes in 2012.

“That is a fall of just under a quarter in a short space of time. We also know that the Welsh eat 2.1 kilograms of lamb per person per year, the English 2 kilograms, Northern Irish 1.3 kilograms but the Scots only eat a mere 800 grams.

“I’d stop protesting at the Royal Welsh Show and start in-store promotions of lamb in Inverness. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise there’s a great opportunity to lift average lamb consumption benefitting all farmers.

“So instead of bagging New Zealand lamb, the NFU and British producers should be investing their energy into getting consumers to swap from other meat protein to lamb. That includes getting vegetarians to shift towards meat too.

“We shouldn’t be scraping over the crumbs of the pie but getting a much bigger slice of it. That starts though interactive sites like New Zealand’s fab www.loveourlamb.co.uk and by getting celebrity chefs and consumers on lamb’s side.

“It’s about social marketing and telling positive stories instead of acting like Eeyore.

“Positive messaging that lamb is the healthyand affordable luxury is the best way to build market share rather than ankle tapping farmers who are basically on the same team,” Mr Powdrell concluded.

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