The Meat & Livestock Commission has recruited a high profile team for its industry forum with the task of rebuilding the red meat sector in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis. The main forum, chaired by MLC chairman Peter Barr, will have three working parties reporting to it: consumer, chaired by Safeway's Kevin Hawkins; Tony Pearce of Birds Eye Wall's will chair the supply chain group; and benchmarking will be chaired by Steve Ellway of HSBC. Industry representatives on the forum include IGD chief executive Joanne Denney, FDF director general Sylvia Jay, Colin Smith of Tesco, Ian Merton of Sainsbury and Fred Duncan of Grampian Country Foods. Brian Bender, first secretary at DEFRA, NFU director general Richard MacDonald and Deirdre Hutton, chair of the National Consumer Council, are also members. A spokeswoman said the exact remit and membership of the working parties was being finalised and the first meeting of the forum would be on September 18. Meanwhile an initiative from the MLC to soak up excess lamb was being supported by the multiples. MLC retail trade manager Maurice McCartney explained that FMD had led to a glut of lamb, and particularly light lamb, which is usually outside retailers' specifications. The MLC has produced a CD-Rom suggesting new butchery methods for light lamb and new product offerings, and McCartney said: "It is receiving great support from retailers. The challenge now is to convert that goodwill into sales." Tesco said it would change its specification policies so smaller lambs could be sold in its product range. It is also working on a new promotional package to help sell the meat cuts. Sainsbury promised to look at additional ways of using lamb in a variety of cuts and prepared dishes. Safeway said it would be marketing Scottish and Welsh light hill lamb for the first time, and it guaranteed to pay all farmers who supplied it with lamb, within 48 hours. - See Meat, p22 {{NEWS }}