This follows an initiative by the Sussex Downs Conservation Board to develop a demarcated brand for products under the South Downs label.
A pilot scheme involving 1,000 lambs underwent successful market testing in 2004, and 4,000 more will be put through the scheme this year, with a target of 11,000 after three years. To qualify, lambs must have been sired by a registered South Downs or Hampshire Downs lamb. “We are seriously looking at extending the season [which runs from June to December this year] and adding other products, from top-quality cuts for butchers to cheaper cuts for schools,” said Phil Belden, SDCB countryside manager. “A farmers’ co-op provides the agreed numbers to a quality specification, and a commercial company has been set up to handle slaughter, processing and delivery to shops. Producers have the satisfaction of being involved in the process, and get clear feedback on grading requirements. Butchers have security of supply and a branded, traceable product.”