25 April 1997

UK lamb not so seasonal

DEMAND for new-season UK lamb has edged back up, as more buyers enter the market.

Sainsbury plans to roll it out into all stores next week. And Marks & Spencer, currently buying none, plans to make it available by early June.

In Tesco, it is already available in some stores – and was so earlier this year than ever before, according to a spokesman.

"The traditional pattern of eating hoggets in the Christmas to April period is changing," he said. "Our customers now want a younger lamb in that period.

"So we would like to see more farmers lamb out of season – in, say, September.

"Our concern is that if we dont have a British source for that, we have to look elsewhere."

But Jeremy Hosking, Tresillian, Cornwall – whose flock lambs from the end of October onwards – cautions against a big move into early lambing.

"At present, the reason that prices for early lambs are good is because there are a limited number of farmers, producing a top-quality item.

"Theres not an unlimited market, so it could be overdone."

There are the practical problems, too, such as keeping the lambs through the "expensive" winter, cautions Mr Hosking.

&#8226 Mondays average liveweight price was 148p/kg, up 2.5p on the week.n