Lamb undergoes image makeover

18 August 2000

Lamb undergoes image makeover

Regional branding is a fairly

new concept in marketing.

It aims to boost producers

sales by attracting brand

loyalty, which in turn

enables producers to

demand a premium price.

James Garner reports

COTSWOLD Lamb is the latest regional brand name to try to promote a product from a distinct area of the UK.

Somerfield, the retailer promoting Cotswold Lamb, says combining the publics quaint and natural image of the Cotswolds with naturally reared lamb will hopefully boost lamb sales in that area.

The image aims to reinforce the reality of healthy, traceable stock reared on environmentally friendly, high welfare systems within an identified region, which local residents will be happy to support. The logo was developed with help from the MLC and also carries the British Meat brand name.

The label was launched earlier this year at Robert and John Baldwyns Top Farm, Hidcote Boyce, Chipping Campden. Somerfield is trying the label initially in 37 stores in the Cotswold area, according to its trading manager Rosemary Price. In these stores no other UK produced lamb will be sold, so competition should be negligible.

But the idea of setting up a regional brand came from Cotswold Sheep Groups Paul Froehlich. Ever since he took over the marketing managers job, he has seen a Cotswold brand as its ultimate goal. It was his approach to Somerfield that began to get the idea underway.

As a lamb group with over 100 members, Cotswold Quality Lamb – the marketing arm of Cotswold Sheep Group – has access to about 150,000 lambs a year.

Its size is an advantage, he adds. "We can guarantee 300 lambs a week from early March through to the following February." And this is without too much hogget trade as its first new season lambs can be drawn from the beginning of March.

The beauty of this arrangement is that it costs members of the sheep group nothing, says Mr Froehlich. "Yet we are selling to a local marketplace and this can be built on to grow a regional brand."

He hopes sales will go well and that Somerfield stocks more of the product. "This increases demand and hopefully increase prices for our producers."

Southern Counties Fresh Foods, part of Hilton Meats International, is the middle man in the chain, and the agreement works through the company

Its category manager Peter Hounsome explains: "Somerfield will ask for a certain amount of chops, legs, loins and steaks each week. This will leave other products from each lamb to be sold, meaning SCFF has to find other outlets to complement Somerfields order."

SCFF currently kills about 600 Cotswold Quality Lambs a week to satisfy demand. In six months time Mr Hounsome reckons it could be up to 1000 lambs a week, but he adds that producers should not expect a premium in the first year.

"It is going to take a year to build brand loyalty and create more demand for Cotswold Lamb. Once demand outstrips supply in stores in a year or so then it may be able to command a premium." But he warns this is unlikely to happen overnight, although it does have good potential.

"People like regional products and like to support them. It will work outside the Cotswold area too, because the Cotswold image is well known."

For other marketing groups considering a similar scheme, Mrs Price offers some advice. "The group has to be very well organised and have total trust in its committee, as a relationship with a retailer can only be built on trust.

"But we are approachable. Mr Froehlich rang me direct to begin negotiations about this promotion."

Cotswold Lamb, available only in Somerfield stores, was Paul Froehlichs idea (right) but was given full backing by the supermarkets trading manager Rosemary Price


&#8226 Regional brand name.

&#8226 Boost sales.

&#8226 Increase prices?

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