THE gap between farm-gate and retail lamb prices widened last month, leading to renewed protests from farm unions of supermarket profiteering.

Monthly farm to retail price spreads, published by the Meat and Livestock Commission, showed that retail prices slipped by just over 31p/kg in July, or 6%, with shoppers paying an average of 474.5p/kg for lamb.

But ex-farm prices fell over 20%, or 46p/kg dw, to 165.2p/kg.

“These shocking calculations show supermarkets are prepared to go on kicking farmers in the teeth,” said Bob Parry, president of the Farmers Union of Wales.

“There is absolutely no question that while markets are closed supermarkets are setting prices, and are ripping off producers.”

But Kevin Hawkins of Safeway, one of the first retailers to announce it would stock light lambs, said such figures and comments were “way off the mark”.

“Firstly, the MLC data cant catch all the promotional activity, so it tends to overstate retail prices.

“Secondly, when the gap between retail and farm price widens, it is usually because processors are running below optimum volume, as now.

“They run into problems and reduce prices to farmers but the price they charge us moves very little.”

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