A stronger partnership between UK and New Zealand producers is needed to combat falling global lamb production and European consumption, the chairman of Meat and Wool New Zealand has claimed.

Instead of differentiating between imported and domestically produced lamb, UK farming groups needed to focus more on lamb as a category, Mike Peterson said. "We should be talking to the retailers about the importance of sheepmeat production in the global sense," he added.

There was also an opportunity for the UK and New Zealand to work together on emerging markets for exported lamb, such as France, he added.

Export tonnage of New Zealand lamb would be down 18% in the coming year due to droughts and farmers converting to dairy because of poor returns on sheep, Peterson said, although New Zealand would still be able to meet its export quotas.