The NFU has called on Tesco to provide evidence to back its claims that stocking New Zealand lamb helped them to sell more British product.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe told Farmers Weekly that in one-on-one discussions with the retailer, following protests at the Royal Welsh Show, Tesco claimed selling NZ lamb alongside British lamb helped them to promote the UK product.

Mr Sercombe said: “Tesco claim that if they stock NZ and British lamb together it increases the total sales and on the back of that they will sell more British.”

He added that a spokesman from the supermarket giant justified the claims by saying stocking imported lamb from New Zealand helped to reduce the price of British lamb and therefore increased demand.

“Logic dictates that if there’s only British on the shelf then we are going to sell it.”
Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman

But Mr Sercombe admitted he found the theory hard to believe.

“Logic dictates that if there’s only British on the shelf then we are going to sell it.”

After a series of meetings to discuss the issue with all of the major supermarkets Mr Sercombe said only Tesco wanted to continue selling a combination of New Zealand and British lamb.

He had also challenged the retailer to prove that sales of British had increased on the back of these promotions.

Eblex figures show that in June 2011 Tesco lamb facings were 69% British compared with 54% during the same period the previous year.

“If they give us the evidence to prove this strategy increases sales of British lamb I will have to accept it.”

Tesco declined to comment directly on the matter.

Instead a Tesco spokesman said: “We sell more British lamb than any other retailer, and we are proud to sell and promote British lamb to our millions of customers right across the UK. We know it is a great product and we want to ensure that we sell it in large volumes when it is at the peak of its season.

“We are delivering on our commitment to strengthen our relationships with British sheep farmers through our Tesco Sustainable Lamb Group, which supports about 200 farmers. We are proud of our work together to bring great quality, affordable British lamb to our customers.”