Morrisons will sell New Zealand lamb in its stores as a cheaper alternative to home-produced lamb.
The imported meat will be sold under the Fresh Taste of New Zealand brand until June, when British new season lamb becomes available in volume. Morrisons’ fresh, own-label lamb will stay 100% British.
The supermarket sold New Zealand lamb this time last year under the Hemsley brand and was criticised by the NFU for not being clear about provenance on the packaging.
But, in December, then-NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond called Morrisons a “shining example” for consistently stocking 100% British fresh beef and lamb after a sourcing survey by EBLEX in December.
Morrisons’ agriculture manager Andrew Loftus said this recent move meant the supermarket could offer a good-quality, affordable alternative to British lamb at this point in the year.
He said Morrisons was not shifting its focus from British lamb, particularly as the supermarket has some of its own processing facilities.
“Why would we move away from a long-term commitment when Britain must produce more of its own protein and we have facilities to process it?” Mr Loftus said.
“It is in line with what we did last year, but it is more transparent, very clearly labelled as New Zealand. Everything with the Morrisons name on it is 100% British.”
National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker said the supermarket has made these seasonal moves for some time and it should not put downward pressure on prices.
“It can be complementary,” he said. “We are talking at a time when UK lamb is at its lowest in terms of numbers and one of its highest in terms of price.
“To have New Zealand lamb on offer keeps interest for a group of people who do not want to pay too much.”
Mr Stocker said supermarkets should be clear about exactly what is 100% British, as it was an easy message to send out but was not always accurate.
“I think we should always be striving for more transparency and honesty in labelling, and more honesty and transparency in claims that are being made.”