Somerfield's latest venture, billed as "a unique alliance between farmer supplier and supermarket", to sell branded Cotswold Lamb has produced significant dividends in its first two months with a 41% leap in local lamb sales. The company agreed to replace all its existing supplies of fresh lamb in over 40 stores across the region from June in a deal worth £1m. "Cotswold Lamb has proved our customers really are concerned about supporting local farmers and about traceability," says Somerfield's trading manager Rosemary Price. Price goes along with the MLC's research which shows lamb sales have suffered because of the perception it is not a quick cook meal. "We are working hard to offer the consumer new quick and easy cuts of lamb so they can enjoy eating it at home." Cotswold Quality Lamb, the marketing arm of the Cotswold Sheep Group, has over 100 members producing about 150,000 lambs a year. The middleman in the operation is Southern Counties Fresh Foods, part of Hilton Meats International, which is currently killing about 600 Cotswold lamb a week to satisfy demand. This could reach up to 1,000 in six months' time according to category manager Peter Hounsome. "It is going to take a year to build brand loyalty and create demand for Cotswold Lamb," he said. "But people like regional products and like to support them. It will work outside the Cotswold area too, because of its image." Next on the menu for the supermarket group is beef with a Northern Counties Meat Group tag due to be unveiled at the end of next month. Somerfield is also talking to beef suppliers in the Derbyshire Peak District and a group of beef and lamb producers in the Welsh Marches, and is interested in South West Quality Meats (see left). {{MEAT }}