lamb carcasses© Rex Shutterstock

The NFU has asked all the top retailers to spell out their commitment to sourcing British lamb.

UK lamb is switching over into the new-season supply, but prices have come under severe pressure in recent months from plentiful imports of New Zealand sheepmeat.

In the letter, NFU president Meurig Raymond asked to know:

  • When each supermarket’s British sourcing season starts and ends
  • What their policies are on the percentage of British lamb stocked
  • What the potential is for buying British lamb year-round
  • What plans they have to develop new products to get shoppers buying lamb
  • If they would ensure labeling is clear on British lamb and the Red Tractor logo is used

Supermarkets typically buy in New Zealand product in the early part of the year, which they claim keeps lamb affordable for customers.

See also: New Zealand lamb loses out to British on-shelf

A Farmers Weekly snapshot survey of the big four retailers over the May bank holiday found just 51% of shelf-facings of fresh, own-label lamb were British.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said at the time he was “furious” with retailers for overordering New Zealand lamb.

“For the past two years, since the last really tough time, the retailers have promised greater support for British and long-term contracts,” he said.

“Some of them are doing that, but as soon as they get the opportunity to revert to type and make a quick buck, they are doing it.”

UK lamb supplies are set to be particularly strong throughout 2015.

Eblex has forecast a 6% rise in production, due to a bigger breeding flock and good weather for tupping and lambing.

Last week the old-season lamb deadweight SQQ fell from 387.1p/kg to 382.6p/kg.