Consumer recognition of the English lamb brand has soared from nil to 58% since EBLEX introduced its Beefy and Lamby advertising campaign.

And this foundation is now ripe for the building of pillar brands around it, enabling farmers to claim a greater part of the value in the supply chain, according to Peter King, chief livestock adviser at the NFU.

“Farmers need to own the brand, or at least a greater share of the brand, to capture the added value in the supply chain,” he said. “If co-ops pulled together they could put together a fantastic proposition. All they then need to do is get it in front of buyers and take their product to the market.”

Meanwhile, EBLEX is undertaking a research programme into the costs of producing early-season lamb, at the request of a Waitrose producer group.

“We are conscious the price we pay needs to be sustainable,” said Waitrose’s Duncan Sinclair. “It is important we have new season lamb on our counter throughout the year and our Dorset producer group is keen to help.”

Producer costs

The research will examine 25 producers’ costs and will be made more widely available to the industry once published.

“It’s important to get a grasp on the differences between early-lamb costs and a conventional spring-lambing system,” said Mark Topliff, economic and policy manager at the MLC.

“It might be that the price paid has to increase to cover costs of production for these producers.”

Early lamb production costs are to be studied by EBLEX so Waitrose can ensure it pays a sustainable price to its farmers.