Sheep farmers in the West Country will still have a competitive market for their lambs despite the demise of the Premier Lamb Company, claims St Merryn Foods.

Lamb suppliers in the region have been concerned about future prices and demand for their product following the break down of the partnership earlier this month between St Merryn and HR Jasper & Son at South Petherwin, Cornwall.

However, John Dracup, procurement manager at St Merryn, told Farmers Weekly that his firm was seeking to increase supplies from the south west due to growing demand from supermarket chain Tesco.

“We are looking to secure more lambs – either through Jaspers or through our Merthyr Tydfil plant, where we are aiming to increase volumes from 12,500-15,000 lambs a week to 25,000.”

The firm was also looking for more organic suppliers to meet rising demand from Tesco, said Mr Dracup.

Tesco last week reiterated its intention to stock 100% British organic meat, at an organic conversion seminar at the Food Animal Initiative in Oxford.

“The growth in the organic market represents a real opportunity for British farmers to align themselves with a premium market,” said Tesco agricultural manager Michelle Waterman.

“We have had some real success in increasing the amount of British sourced organics – but there is still an opportunity here for far more farmers to benefit.”