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Tesco has faced criticism from the NFU after AHDB Beef & Lamb revealed the proportion of British lamb on its shelves fell steeply year on year.

The levy board’s latest Beef and Lamb Watch analysis reveals just 58% of Tesco lamb facings were British between August 2014 and August 2015, down from 73% a year earlier. 

Elsewhere, the amount of British lamb facings sold by Sainsbury’s rose from 87% to 98% during the same period, while Lidl, The Co-op Group and Asda also registered increases. Waitrose, Budgens, Aldi and Morrisons all boasted 100% British lamb on shelves. 

“Using facings as a key indicator, Tesco support for domestic lamb is not just below average, it appears to be bottom of the pile,” said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe.

“We are challenging Tesco to explain how this reduction in the percentage of British lamb sold is compatible with its open public commitments to source more meat closer to home,” he added. “British farmers are once again asking, why in the peak British lamb season Tesco are not backing British.”

However, a Tesco spokeswoman responded that the retailer was the biggest purchaser of British lamb, and recognised its quality, while its fresh meat counters offered 100% British meat all year round.

But “to ensure our customers have consistently high quality and affordable lamb all year round, we do source from both the UK and New Zealand”, she added.