Waitrose has announced that it will pay its dedicated producers around 10% above market rate for early lamb.
The supermarket says it has taken this unusual step because it considers the current market price for new season Welsh lamb unsustainable for farmers as it does not reflect the costs associated with producing early lambs.
Waitrose has been selling new season Welsh lamb in 50 of its branches since the start of May.
The retailer will be offering new season British and Welsh lamb across all its branches by 8 June, when it will cease to sell any fresh New Zealand lamb for the duration of the British season of available lambs from Waitrose producers.
Representing 450 Welsh farmers who supply Waitrose with lamb, Jon Morgan of Livestock Marketing says: “The importance of a collaborative supply chain where the farmer and the supermarket understand each other’s businesses, is evident in a year when market prices collapse.
“By taking a long term view Waitrose is ensuring a sustainable and continued supply from a group of known producers it has worked with for the last 15 seasons.”
Gareth Vaughan, president of the Farmers Union of Wales, said: “I firmly believe that dedicated producer groups – where all parties have a clear understanding of the market and its challenges – is the way forward.
“ This enables farmers to plan their season with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will have support during market fluctuations. As such I fully support Waitrose’s commitment to backing their lamb producers in this way.”
Jane Clarke, Waitrose Central Meat Buyer, said: “As a team, we work towards a long term, sustainable lamb market, and ensure our farmers are paid a fair price which considers the cost of production.”
“We are also maintaining a fair pricing policy to our beef farmers despite the current well publicised weakness of the cattle market.
“We are fully aware of the cost of production issues in the industry and our Aberdeen Angus and Hereford schemes recognise this by providing a stable and long term premium to the market, for a quality product.”
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