They don't realise how few lambs the multiples buy' Slaughterers defend stores Supermarkets, under attack from producers and consumer groups for allegedly profiteering on lamb, still have a few friends in the industry. Some slaughterers are becoming surprisingly vocal in defence of the multiples, claiming the sheep farmers simply do not understand how the trade works. "These people don't realise how few lambs the multiples actually buy," The Grocer was told on Tuesday by one abattoir industry source. "The market share is just not big enough for the major retailers to be completely to blame for the poor lamb prices." As estimates by market researcher Taylor Nelson Sofres show, the multiples control a much smaller slice of total carcase sheepmeat retail sales than of beef, pork, bacon or poultry volume. And even these figures probably exaggerate the supermarkets' role in the sheepmeat trade, because mutton and lamb are less important than most other meats as raw material in the further-processed and manufactured product sectors. And of course overseas buyers are bidding against the UK retailers. Exports currently take about 30% of production, about twice the proportion of pigmeat going to overseas purchasers. {{MEAT }}