16 February 1996

NZ lamb spring offensive due

UK lamb producers will face heightened competition this spring after the launch of a national advertising campaign for New Zealand lamb.

Announcing the start of the £1.5m campaign in London this week, John Mabb, director of the New Zealand Lamb Promotion Council, said its aim was to increase sales through the spring and in the run-up to Easter.

The UKs growing export trade, combined with higher prices, had helped New Zealand product develop its "enduring place" on the UK consumers shopping list, he said.

Large-scale production, resulting from the "huge kill over a short period", gave the New Zealand product its relative advantage in terms of price stability, he said. The recent BSE scare had also helped sales. Overall, UK imports of New Zealand lamb grew 25.7% to nearly 87,000t in the year to Sept 30, 1995.

Responding to domestic concerns over chilled product, Mr Mabb stressed that it accounted for less than 1.5% of UK sheepmeat consumption last year.

And any growth in this sector is likely to be steady, he said. It is technically difficult meat to handle. "Not one to be fobbed around the market by traders seeking to make a profit transferring it from one cold store to another."

In 1995 4457t of chilled New Zealand lamb came into the UK compared with 3443t in the previous year. But it was the carry-over of hoggets which had had more effect on UK prices, according to Laurie Bryant, European director of the New Zealand Meat Producers Board.

New Zealand would be unlikely to fill its total sheepmeat export quota to the EU of 226,700t in 1996 or even 1997, he added.

The UK, meanwhile, remains New Zealands largest market. &#42