The UK meat industry has slammed retailers for continuing to stock imported lamb as UK farmgate prices crash.
According to AHDB beef & lamb’s latest retail Lambwatch survey, British lamb accounted for just 73% of facings in the major supermarkets in June 2015.
Only four of the multiple retailers - Aldi, Budgens, Morrisons and Waitrose - had 100% British lamb facings. The Co-op was the worst performing supermarket, with just 38% British lamb facings, followed by Sainsbury’s (54%) and Lidl (55%).
Asda – which last week said it would switch to almost 100% British lamb from mid-July – had 66% British lamb facings in June, with Tesco also on 66%.
Although average levels of British lamb facings are around 2% higher than this time last year, AHDB beef and lamb chairman Stuart Roberts said it was concerning to see imported lamb competing for shelf space given the current situation on UK lamb prices.
“By this time of year, we would have expected to see a higher percentage of British facings on the lamb side in particular,” he added.
“There is obvious concern in the sheep industry at the moment, about lamb sales and sheep prices, and the commitment by retailers to backing the domestic industry.
“Our figures appear to confirm that there is more the major multiple retailers could do to help the industry at a time when we are seeing plentiful supply rise.”
His comments were echoed by Dai Davies, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, during his speech at the Royal Welsh Show this morning.
“I’m sorry to say that some multiple retailers have not shared our vision of cooperation within the industry and have been complicit in maintaining the supply of imported as opposed to home grown lamb,” said Davies.
“I urge them to reconsider their sourcing policies and decide whether they really want to sacrifice the long term future of the UK’s supply chain for a short term gain.”
Roberts said it was down to individual retailers to make stocking decision based on their own supply chains. However, he said retailers who consistently scored highly in terms of British lamb deserved “credit”.
He congratulated Asda on its commitments to British lamb and offered to repeat the benchmarking survey in six weeks to show how far the retailer has moved forward.
“We are happy to go back and survey any of the major multiple retailers in six weeks’ time if they commit to stocking more British beef and lamb, to help them demonstrate progress towards that goal,” he added.
A Co-operative Food spokesperson said: “This year, the Truly Irresistible Cambrian lamb was in stores from 15th June and then all stockist stores went to 100% British supply of lamb by 8th July. Our fresh lamb is sourced from farms across the UK and then New Zealand when British lamb is out of season. Our Truly Irresistible fresh lamb is produced from native breeds in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales.