23 May 1997

WQMP launches partnership venture for 80,000 lambs

LIVESTOCK marketing group, Wessex Quality Meat Producers, has become the latest to tighten the links with one of its principal buyers.

In a joint venture with abattoir group ABP, it is launching the Wessex Anglo Lamb Partnership, looking to sign up producers to supply it direct with quality assured lambs.

Currently, WQMP markets about 55,000 lambs a year deadweight, with 35,000 of them going to ABPs single species plant at Wellingborough, Northants. The companies aim to grow this to 80,000 and are looking for new members for the partnership in the Avon, Glos, Oxon, Wilts, Dorset and Hants area.

Premiums are on offer for lambs that make the grade. A base price is negotiated daily between WQMP and ABP for R3H carcasses, based on the standard quality quotation. Above this, R2 and R3L carcasses will attract a 20p/kg premium, with U2s, U3Ls, E2s and E3Ls getting an extra 25p/kg, paid within seven days.

Currently 79% of carcasses going to ABP reach these standards, says WQMP boss, Ralph Human. But those that fall below base will be penalised heavily – amounting to 20p/kg off for 4Ls and 50p/kg off for 4Hs.

Advantages

"Most other groups and partnerships start their base prices at R3L, so our members are already ahead," says Mr Human. "Also, we weigh our carcasses dressed with kidneys still in, which can add another half a kilo."

Other advantages include the fact that the Wessex Anglo Lamb Partnership is not tied to one supermarket, adds Mr Human. "Through ABP we have access to the whole range of outlets, including the export market."

The partnership also offers a quality ram purchase scheme and an annual "flockmaster of the year" award.

There is no joining fee, though WQMP does charge a 2% commission and haulage. It is also a corporate member of the FABBL farm assurance scheme and employs specialist staff to select lambs and give feedback to producers from the abattoir.

Although this works well enough, Mr Human does believe farm assurance needs more teeth. "We follow FABBL because its all there is," he says. "But to give a meaningful message to retailers, we must develop an independent inspectorate."n