A sheep breeder from the far north coast of Scotland has shamed her local Tesco supermarket into switching from stocking almost exclusively New Zealand lamb to filling the shelves with British-branded cuts.
Joyce Campbell, who runs 800 North Country Cheviot ewes at Armadale in Caithness, was furious when she discovered the Thurso branch of Tesco had only six packs of British lamb chops for sale at £14/kg, but “shelf loads” of New Zealand chops that cost only £7.75/kg.
“I spoke to the manager, put the story on my Facebook page and wrote letters to the local and national branches of Tesco,” she said.
“I went back last week to stock up before gathering the lambs for the Lairg sales, and it had turned around. There were only a few miserable NZ chops and plentiful Scottish and British lamb.”
Ms Campbell also had a huge response to her Facebook page, including a comment from a woman in Gisborne, New Zealand, who said NZ lamb chops cost more in New Zealand than they did thousands of miles away in Thurso.
And she argued that direct personal contact with supermarkets was more effective than political campaigns.
“Interact with them and tell them you’re spending your money in their shop. The local Tesco manager agreed with me that the supermarkets should have a conscience,” she said.
But Tesco denied that any contact with Ms Campbell changed the amount of UK lamb on sale at its Thurso store.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We’re very pleased to offer Joyce and customers in our Thurso store British lamb.
“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. This season we expect to sell more British lamb than ever before.”
Meanwhile, NFU Scotland is to run a “Love Scotch Lamb” weekend at 12 supermarkets and town centres across the country next Saturday and Sunday.
Union officials and sheep farmers will barbecue lamb and offer samples to consumers.
They will also highlight the meat’s versatility and ease of cooking. The events are being run in conjunction with Quality Meat Scotland and the National Sheep Association.
See also: NFU targets Tesco over New Zealand lamb