Lamb imports dominate shelves

NFU Scotland has called on major supermarkets to up their support for Scotch lamb in the coming months and use this season’s starting price levels to reposition lamb in the consumer’s shopping basket.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller played ‘secret shopper’ and visited six major superstores to gauge the current levels of support for Scottish, British and imported lamb. He was encouraged to find that the Morrisons store showed total commitment to British lamb at this early stage in the season. The Sainsburys store also showed an encouraging amount of Scotch lamb.

In other retailers visited, Scotch lamb was available on the butchery counters but no Scotch lamb was clearly identified in the meat aisles and while British lamb was for sale, imported lamb from New Zealand and Australia still made up the bulk of lamb packs on the shelves.

Mr Miller, who visited Asda and Tesco stores in the Borders, said: “This year’s lamb market has opened up with a substantial readjustment in prices and that has left many producers feeling jittery about prospects for the season ahead. With the lamb markets re-balancing from the highs of recent years and Euro uncertainty affecting export opportunities, a higher level of commitment from supermarkets to home-produced product early in the season has the potential to generate the confidence and stability needed on farm.

“With a co-ordinated approach from farm to processor to shop shelf to consumer, this lamb season - while unlikely to hit the highs of recent years - still has the potential to be good for all concerned.

“This week’s examination of shop shelves, while far from extensive, shows that in many stores a lot more could be done to properly stock and promote Scottish or British lamb. It is still early in the season, and it is clear that many retailers still have imported lamb contracts running but it remains a disappointment that only Sainsburys had Scotch lamb clearly identified on the shelves.”

At Tesco, Galashiels, Mr Miller found 64 packs of lamb - 54 from New Zealand and 10 from Britain. There were also 14 packs of New Zealand lamb on special offer. Scotch lamb was on the specialist butchery counter.

At Asda, Galashiels, 57 packs of lamb were on the shelves – 27 Australian, 20 British and 10 New Zealand. Scotch lamb was available at the butchery counter.