With significant numbers of Scottish stock still on farm, the Union’s secret shoppers, when counting packs of chilled lamb in stores the length and breadth of the country, have found almost all retailers giving people little choice to buy Scottish lamb.
Easter weekend marks one of the few times in the year when families are guaranteed to get around the dinner table to enjoy a hearty meal, with many seeking out home-produced meat. Sadly, the Union’s shelfwatch has indicated that shoppers will have to look hard in stores to find any Scottish or turn to their local butcher if they want to buy some fresh, tasty and local Scottish lamb.
The shelfwatch results show that, despite previous commitments by some supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and Lidl have all chosen to import huge volumes of New Zealand and Australian lamb, shunning home producers. More worryingly, today’s results show a marked decrease from the results in previous years, leading to farmers questioning the long-term commitment of supermarkets supporting Scottish sheep producers.
In one Tesco store, underneath a banner proclaiming ‘The Best Scottish Lamb in Season’, a secret shopper found 100 packs of New Zealand lamb.
Despite their previous vocal support for Scottish and British lamb, Morrisons, and Lidl both were found to be stocking large amounts of imported lamb.
Last year, Marks and Spencer’s made a commitment to source 100 per cent Scottish lamb for its Scottish stores this season. But this has not been followed through, as some secret shoppers found the retailer had almost 50 per cent of imported lamb on its shelves. NFU Scotland has already contacted the retailer questioning why this commitment has not stood.
Commenting on the results NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “Scottish farmers are coming through the difficult spring lambing period, and continue to be hard at work caring for new-born lambs. It’s frankly a slap in the face to many of us that supermarkets have failed to show strong support to Scotland’s sheep farmers and their families over the Easter period – a time of year when consumers seek out our high-quality produce.
“We continue to urge Tesco and Asda to extend their season for buying home produced lamb in a bid to boost sales of Scottish. And we will be asking questions of Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and Lidl, who have failed to maintain their previous good record on domestic sourcing this year. Those commitments have been lauded and appreciated by NFUS and Scottish farmers in the past.
“Aldi must be commended for being the sole retailer found to be selling exclusively Scottish and UK lamb over the Easter period, meaning that it is the only place that shoppers are guaranteed to be able to buy Scottish ahead of the Easter weekend.
“We also continue to be reassured by the commitment from the Co-op that it plans to move to 100 per cent home-produced across all fresh meat later this year, and we look forward to seeing this driving success for Scottish farmers.”