Lamb on supermarket shelf

Retailers’ promotion of New Zealand and UK lamb has come under scrutiny ahead of the Easter weekend.

Earlier in the week, the NFU’s chief livestock adviser, John Royle, criticised Morrisons for its heavy promotion of New Zealand lamb legs and praised Aldi for stocking 100% British lamb in its fresh lines.

A spokesperson from Morrisons said all of its other lamb lines – of which there are 24 – were British over Easter. 

See also: High NZ lamb exports criticised for ‘disrespecting’ UK season

The proportion of British lamb across supermarket shelves dropped 8% in January compared with the same month last year, according to AHDB’s Lamb Watch released this week. 

Tesco saw a 24% fall in British lamb facings – the biggest among the Big Four (Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Morrisons), while lamb facings at Lidl were down a huge 40% in January.

Farmers Weekly store spot check

The Farmers Weekly business team went into stores this week to see how the UK and New Zealand lamb offerings were shaping up. 

*On offer

Tesco

Brixton, London, and Hookwood, Surrey

  • UK: chops, breast joint, mince, diced, neck fillets, half leg*, rump joint.
  • NZ: Half shoulder, leg steak, chops, whole leg*, half leg*, liver, heart.
  • UK and NZ products all mixed up together on shelves, but UK packages included Union flag and Red Tractor logo. The retailer said all its meat counters were 100% British.

Sainsbury’s

Tulse Hill, London

  • UK: Breast joint, mince, chops, liver, diced*, steak.
  • NZ: Shoulders, legs, steaks*, meatballs, steak.
  • Quite wide range of cuts, UK and NZ flags on packs, but packaging same colour so could easily be mistaken. UK and NZ products all mixed up together. Wider range online, including UK legs, but no ability to chose UK or NZ.

Morrisons

Sutton, Surrey

  • UK: Chops*, min meatballs, half and whole shoulders with/without bone, cutlets, rack, ribs, breast, kidneys, leg chops, neck rings and fillets, stewing neck*, leg roast fillet*, leg roast shank.
  • NZ: whole lamb legs*.
  • Normally 100% UK but included NZ whole legs for Easter promotions (£4/kg compared to UK £10/kg) on end of aisle position with Easter promotion banner, plus island promotion area. Main meat aisle (mostly UK) “Easter lamb” banner. Some UK packs with Union flag, all with Red Tractor logo. Wide choice of UK cuts in main meat aisle including added-value products such as mint ribs and garlic and rosemary whole leg.

Asda

Online check

  • GB: leg steaks*, diced*, chops, shoulder fillets*, chump steaks, burgers, half leg, shoulder, breast.
  • NZ: chops*.
  • Country not given: mince, minted leg steaks*, rump steaks*, joint with garlic butter*, cutlets, mini joint, whole leg.
  • Some labelled with Union flag.

Lidl

  • UK: West Country (deluxe range), rack (Scottish).
  • NZ: Whole leg, leg steaks, loin chops.
  • Retailer said all its listed fresh lamb would be 100% UK by 1 July 2016 (non-listed products are those that the discounter buys in for a limited-time promotion). 

Waitrose

  • British: Good range of West Country lamb cuts on fresh meat counter but on shelves almost all lamb was NZ, including under Duchy Organic label. Only Essential range lamb meatballs were British.
  • NZ: Whole leg, half leg on promotion, Duchy organic leg steaks on promotion.
  • Waitrose said it offered British lamb year round.

Aldi

Online check

  • UK: Mince, leg steaks, whole leg, chops, shoulder.
  • NZ: None on fresh meat.
  • UK lamb promoted on home page of website.

Co-operative supermarket

(Farmers Weekly was unable to do a spot-check, but spoke to spokesperson at the supermarket)

  • UK: Stocks some British lamb products year round and there are three British lines over Easter. 
  • NZ:  Stocks NZ lamb in winter and early spring.