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Retailers have defended their meat sourcing policies amid claims they are favouring lamb from New Zealand over new season British lamb.

Perceptions that the mults are stocking too little British lamb - compounded by a fall in domestic farmgate lamb prices and a drop in demand - have led to mounting pressure from the likes of the NFU and NFU Cymru to support British farmers.

Concerns have also been raised by individual farmers and consumers, who have taken to social media to express dismay over low availability of UK lamb.

Supermarkets this week defended their records, with Tesco saying it “recognised the quality of British lamb” and was proud to be the biggest buyer of it. But it added it had to source from New Zealand as well to ensure a year-round supply.

“As we approach the peak season for British lamb, the British participation will increase,” a spokeswoman said.

Asda said only 30% of its lamb product lines were currently imported from New Zealand and it remained “committed to increasing the number of British lines we stock”, adding “we pride ourselves on complete traceability and transparency.”

Sainsbury’s said it worked “very closely with our sheep farmers to source British lamb when it’s available”, but was forced to have a mix of New Zealand and British lamb to ensure it could guarantee availability.

Morrisons said it had, in fact, had new-season lamb on shelves earlier this year than usual, thanks to the warm April.

Some retailers have faced embarrassment over lamb labelling, with Asda forced to apologise in April after labelling New Zealand lamb as British, while Tesco said this week it had made a similar error in marketing New Zealand lamb under the Red Tractor.