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Tesco again lets down lamb producers

tesco_2633327bTHE farming unions have this week acknowledged the good work of Aldi and Morrisons in getting 100% British lamb on their shelves, but at the same time, have expressed grave disappointment that the proportion on sale in Tesco stores is as low as 55%.
New trade figures also show M&S and Sainsbury’s all ensured at least 85% of lamb in store carried a Welsh or British labels.
Commenting on the findings, NFU President Peter Kendall said more needs to be done, particularly by Tesco.
He said: “In July, I called upon all retailers to celebrate British lamb as ‘best in season’, putting it front and centre of their displays and really getting behind our sheep farmers.
“It’s great that most appear to be taking that message on board, including Tesco, which has invested in national advertising of UK lamb. However, the results of this survey show there is still an enormous amount of work to do within Tesco to increase their British sourcing.
“It is now seven months since Philip Clarke made bold promises to increase their British sourcing at the NFU Conference, and many hard working sheep farmers will be asking serious questions about whether this was a genuine commitment.
“While we are confident that Tesco is working on plans for the future, it is concerning that their promises to UK agriculture don’t seem to be reflected in current commercial buying behaviour. These figures suggest they are clearly buying less UK lamb than last year, showing that between January and August there has been a 10% drop in the amount of British labels in the Tesco lamb chillers.
“We believe that all parts of the supply chain must work together to ensure a stronger British sheep industry and we know there is scope to increase British sourcing and get more British lamb on more British plates.
“We will continue to hold retailers and other parts of the supply chain to account on both their sourcing and their communications.”
“Many sheep farmers are still rebuilding businesses following the difficult market conditions last year and confidence is fragile, reflected in the low prices for breeding stock seen this year.
“Farmers are relying on strong autumn sales to restore balance sheets and the global supply situation is forecast to remain tight. Every ingredient is there for a successful season and it’s now imperative that agriculture’s biggest customers are all fully behind British lamb.”
Whilst the prices being paid to local lamb producers has been at its lowest the Welsh meat promotions agency (Hybu Cig Cymru -HCC) has reported that there has been encouraging Russian interest in Welsh Lamb at the world’s biggest international food fair Anuga.
The Welsh meat body explained that there had been several “serious enquiries” from Russian companies looking to put Welsh Lamb into their shops.
HCC market development manager Laura Dodds explained: “Welsh Lamb is not only a world-class brand, but is seen as a high-quality premium product, which explains the interest from an increasingly wealthy Russia.
“Identifying new markets is important to ensure the continuing viability of the Welsh red meat industry. Exports can bring the wealth back to Wales, securing 50,000 jobs in the farming and processing industries and boosting the Welsh economy.”