from Gerry Thompson, Meat & Wool New Zealand

Sir; In your articles about UK farming (‘A Grave Future?’, The Grocer, July 9) you resorted to emotive comment about New Zealand: “For too long the industry has allowed New Zealand to steal market share.”
Come now! New Zealand has been in the UK lamb market for 123 years. For a decade after the Second World War, it was contracted to the British government to supply all Britain’s lamb and mutton.
When the UK entered the EC, New Zealand sold the UK 300,000 tonnes. Today, the New Zealand EU quota is 226,700 tonnes. Less than 100,000 tonnes comes to Britain.
Your article continues: “...most recently through extending the season for NZ fresh lamb, squeezing prices for in-season UK lamb.”
Well, 30 years ago no chilled product was shipped. But now technology makes it possible to get chilled lamb on British supermarket shelves for about six months. Consumers increasingly want to buy product that is not frozen.
New Zealand must respond to that demand. That means from Christmas, until the middle of the year, NZ new season chilled lamb will be there alongside British “old season” lamb and hogget. There are a few weeks’ seasonal overlap and now, in mid July, NZ chilled lamb season has practically finished. For the rest of the year, British lamb has the fresh meat cabinet to itself.
New Zealand should be described as substantially reduced in quantity compared with the past; with our chilled product seasonally complementing British new season lamb. By this and by advertising and promoting early in the year, we help sustain demand and prices for lamb for producers, British and our own.