23 August 2001
‘Stores mark up lamb by 300%’

By FWi staff

SUPERMARKETS are charging consumers up to 300% more for British lamb than the price paid to farmers, claims a newspaper investigation.

The Daily Mail suggests margins are soaring, especially in south-east England, despite the problems facing farmers as a result of foot-and-mouth.

The paper reports that in July, farmers were offered an average of 74.9p/lb (165.2p/kg) for lamb, the lowest figure for 10 years.

When it reached the supermarket shelves, however the price had soared to an average of 2.81/lb (6.19/kg).

This compares to an average price of 90p/lb (198p/kg) for the same type of lamb wholesale in Smithfield market.

On a whole lamb basis, a farmer who reared a 34lb animal would have sold it for 25.47, but then seen it fetch 95.55 once it reached store shelves.

Devon farmer Richard Haddock said: “There is clear profiteering which is unforgivable given the state of the farming industry.”

But a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, which represents leading retailers, said that high prices were the fault of processors.

Stores would charge lower prices if they could, he said.

“We dont buy lamb directly from farmers, but from processors. Supermarket prices reflect the price we pay processors, not the price they pay farmers.”

The British Meat Federation rushed to the defence of processors and abattoirs, claiming they were being squeezed from both sides.

It also pointed out that supermarkets will not take all the meat from a lamb, which leaves them trying to find other buyers for less popular cuts.