Fewer than half the lambs supplied by British producers meet supermarket carcase quality standards, and major processors serving the multiples are increasingly willing to voice their exasperation in public. Richard Cracknell, md of slaughtering industry leader Anglo Beef Processors, is the latest to criticise the farmers openly, declaring "it is depressing that year after year there seems to be little if any improvement in the uniformity of lamb carcases from British producers". Latest MLC figures show a slight increase in the percentage of lambs reaching the target during the 1990s, but it never exceeded 50% and last year fell to below 47%. Slaughterers have complained privately for at least the past two decades. A change in the subsidy system, switching some producer support away from deficiency payments with the declared aim of linking farmers' incomes more closely to the quality of their output, was the official response to the grievance but has clearly had almost no effect. Cracknell's willingess to take the argument into the public arena is significant, because he is usually careful to express sympathy for farmers. On the other hand, ABP as major fresh meat supplier to Sainsbury and Asda would be highly sensitive to the multiples' concerns, and it is common knowledge in the trade that supermarket reaction to the latest home-produced lamb crop has been unenthusiastic. "There is far too wide a variation in carcase conformation and fat cover, particularly when compared with New Zealand lamb where [the carcases] are like peas in a pod," said Cracknell. {{MEAT }}