Call for UK’s biggest retailer to sell more home-produced lamb

NFU Scotland latest Shelfwatch finds stronger commitment from all supermarkets to Scottish and British lamb

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NFU Scotland latest Shelfwatch finds stronger commitment from all supermarkets to Scottish and British lamb

NFU Scotland is looking for the UK’s biggest retailer to commit to stocking significantly more home produced lamb in the future.

Meeting with Tesco, NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie and fellow UK Unions discussed the supermarket’s ongoing support for British food and drink.

In a standalone meeting with NFUS, involving Mr Bowie and Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam, the Union specifically discussed Tesco support for Scottish lamb.  The meeting was requested following the discovery in recent weeks by members of signs in Tesco stores welcoming ‘The Best Scottish Lamb in Season’ situated above shelves predominately stocked with New Zealand produce.

NFUS used the meeting as an opportunity to explain the deep felt anger amongst sheep producers regarding the co-mingling of home-produced and imported lamb under a Scottish banner and to challenge the retailer on why it was stocking imported lamb when Scottish lamb was at peak season and the industry’s annual lamb marketing campaign was in full swing.

The Union recognises that Tesco is the biggest single customer for Scottish lamb but it is looking for better in-store labelling and signage and a significant improvement in the volume of home-produced lamb on its shelves.  It is also looking for the retailer to change its policy of producing minced lamb mixed from British and New Zealand meat.

The Tesco discussions come at the same time as NFU Scotland’s latest shelfwatch examination of supermarket shelves has seen a welcome significant shift towards exclusivity for Scottish and British lamb by all retailers.

That is a marked improvement given the volume of imported lamb found on some supermarket shelves only a few weeks ago and a big boost to Scottish sheep producers as we hit peak season for tasty Scotch lamb.

With the annual Scotch lamb marketing campaign coming to a close and many Scottish sheep farmers having been involved in Scotch lamb promotions and tastings around the country in recent weeks, the Union believes that all supermarkets should be stocking exclusively Scottish or British lamb for at least six months of the year.  Indeed, some retailers – Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi – are committed to Scotch or British all year round and other retailers are being urged to look at how they can significantly extend their season for home-produced lamb.

As well as meeting Tesco, NFU Scotland has joined other UK unions in meeting Marks and Spencer, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Asda in recent weeks to discuss ongoing support for all Scottish or UK produce.

Speaking following the Tesco meeting – and ahead of a meeting with Lidl – NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said:

“Last week’s headlines around the significant volumes of imported lamb on supermarket shelves at a time when Scottish lamb is at peak season caused deep anger amongst our sheep producers and a clear need for some supermarkets to do better with regards to their commitment to home-produced lamb.

“Yesterday’s meeting with Tesco was full and frank with discussions focussed around how the country’s biggest supermarket can increase its volumes of home-produced lamb.  We recognise that Tesco is already our biggest customer but recent weeks have shown that more can clearly be done to support Scottish sheep producers.

“A clear commitment from the supermarket to increase the volumes sourced would be an excellent start point to rebuilding relationships with the country’s lamb producers and a stepping stone to establishing more responsible, sustainable supply chains.”

Commenting after yesterday’s Shelfwatch examination, Policy Manager John Armour added: “What a difference a few weeks have made.  Other than offal and mince, only one pack of New Zealand lamb was found in all stores visited yesterday with all retailers more clearly committed to stocking home produced lamb.

“Mixed mince – containing both British and NZ lamb – remains an issue and was discussed with Tesco yesterday.  We believe consumers would be better served by being offered a mince clearly labelled as being from a single country of origin.

“On the downside, while virtually every pack of lamb was identified as being British, comparatively little was clearly identified as being Scotch.  While we believe that much of the lamb in British packaging in Scottish stores would be Scottish, there is an opportunity at this time of year – on the back of the ‘Wham Bam Thank You Lamb’ campaign and ‘Love Scotch Lamb’ weekend – to get the Scotch label onto shelves and build the Scotch brand.

“These results are only a snapshot of retail shop shelves and we continue to urge our members to get into stores and let us know what they see – good and bad – by way of support for Scottish produce.  The reaction to our member’s concerns over what they discovered on Tesco shelves in recent weeks and the positive response shows that we can make a difference.

“NFU Scotland will continue to monitor shop shelves and, in the last year, we have found Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl to have been 100 percent committed to Scotch and British lamb, all year round.  We will be writing to those retailers shortly commending them for their support for Scottish sheep producers.”

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