English lamb needs promotion
ENGLISH sheep producers should consider a lamb marketing initiative, as they are losing out to Scottish and Welsh lamb.
Juliet Davies, buying director of Andover based lamb processor * M Bennett is concerned that Welsh and Scottish sheep producers are benefiting from promotion not available to their English counterparts and is urging English sheep producers and their leaders to consider ways to boost English lambs image.
"I do not want to see English sheep producers disadvantaged because they are not operating on a level playing field," says Mrs Davies.
Welsh and Scotch lamb benefits from marketing initiatives in these countries which is likely to increase with devolution and a rise in nationalism, she says.
"The lamb market is competitive and everyone is fighting for the same bit of shelf-space in supermarkets, but we need lowland lamb because it starts earlier and runs in different seasons."
According to NSA chief executive, John Thorley, there is no doubt there is a marketing advantage in Wales and Scotland because they have access to different funding mechanisms which are not available in England.
But a spin-off from Scottish and Welsh promotion is more lambs sales, benefiting English producers and complicating the issue, says Mr Thorley.
"It is worth debating better promotion of English lamb to get a proper consensus, although I am not totally convinced of the benefits.
"Promoting English lamb is more difficult because it comes from different pockets of the country associated with varied grass production and it is not quite as evocative an image either," he says.
David Croston, MLC head of sheep strategy, understands Mrs Davies point, but warns that a body to promote English lamb would cause further industry fragmentation and be detrimental to lambs image. *