Tesco is facing fresh criticism over its policy to import lamb at a time when there is a plentiful supply of the home-grown product.
NFU Scotland added its concern at the lack of British lamb on sale in Tesco stores just weeks after the retail giant came under fire from England’s union and the National Sheep Association. The latest criticism was also levelled at Asda and followed a “secret shopper” survey of stores by NFUS members.
An NFUS spokesman said: “Frustration is at Tesco and Asda, is growing as significant levels of imported lamb continue to be found on their shelves despite Scottish lamb being in peak season.
“At Tesco, that discovery is at odds with commitments made by the retailer this spring, following the horsemeat debacle, that it was going to bring its food chain sourcing ‘closer to home’,” the spokesman said.
It is the second successive month in which the NFUS has highlighted the volume of Australian and New Zealand lamb in Asda and Tesco stores.
But the union praised other major retailers.
Secret shopper findings
*NZ and UK Mixed product
“Morrisons and Sainsbury’s stores visited by NFU Scotland’s team of secret shoppers this week found 100% commitment to British or Scottish lamb on their shelves. A quick look at butchers’ shops around the country also found tremendous support for locally produced lamb,” the spokesman said.
NFU Scotland’s livestock policy manager John Sleigh, said: “This is the time of year when Scottish lamb is at its tastiest and represents the best value for shoppers. So why on earth are Tesco and Asda buying and shipping in out-of-season lamb from the Southern Hemisphere to fill up its shelves?
“In the case of Tesco, what makes that policy more difficult to take is that, earlier in the year, it publicly stated its commitment to bringing its food sourcing policy closer to home.”
Mr Sleigh added: “Our shelf watch campaign shows that local butchers and other major retailers can, and do, show 100% commitment to Scottish or British product at this time of year. Scottish farmers are glad of such tremendous support and rightly challenge Tesco and Asda to follow suit.
“However, this is peak season, the Scottish marketing campaign ‘Wham, Bam, Thank You Lamb’ is in full swing and those working hard to produce some of the best lamb in the world rightly demand more from these two major supermarkets.”