NFU president Meurig Raymond has strongly criticised Tesco’s decision to heavily promote New Zealand lamb in the middle of the prime season for British lamb, given previous commitments the retailer has made.
The NFU wrote to all supermarkets last week to highlight that British grass-fed, spring-born lamb is now in peak season while southern-hemisphere lamb, born around a year ago, is currently at the end of its season.
“Tesco stated yesterday that With the large demand for lamb we cannot always guarantee consistent UK stock’,” Mr Raymond said. “I find this comment almost as ridiculous as last September’s statement from Tesco that British lamb was ‘not in season at the moment in the UK’.
“I’m angry and disappointed that this comes only 18 months after giving such positive undertakings on its sourcing and supply chains for red meat.
“The figures speak for themselves. The UK was self-sufficient in lamb last year and lamb numbers are even higher this year. We have more than enough lamb available.
“I believe that promoting New Zealand lamb over British, and Tesco’s attempts to justify this, misleads consumers about the seasonality of lamb and sends a signal to farmers that Tesco is not prepared to promote the benefits of food produced in the UK. Why promote end-of-season product, which many view as inferior, over Red Tractor assured, fresh lamb produced in the fields, valleys and hills of England and Wales?
“By these actions Tesco is failing to live up to the commitments made by Philip Clarke at the NFU Conference last year that Tesco should be the best supporter of British farmers and that it wished to shorten the supply chain.
“Consumers want to buy our great British product and know when it’s in peak season so it’s vitally important at this time of year to give clearly labelled, home-grown lamb pride of place, when there’s a good, affordable and fresh supply on our doorstep.”