EU move to help stimulate European lamb consumption

EU move to help stimulate European lamb consumption

EBLEX has welcomed a change in EU rules on the generic co-promotion of lamb to help stimulate European demand.

The EU has amended current legislation to include lamb in the co-funded promotion of agricultural products after five years of talks in which the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), through its beef and lamb division EBLEX, has played a pivotal role. The new rules are due to come into force at the end of this month.

Current EU regulations mean that promotional campaigns are limited to only fresh, chilled or frozen meat produced in accordance with a community or a national quality scheme. While sheep meat with Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) and Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) plays a positive role in enhancing the consumption of EU sheep meat, quality schemes only cover a very limited proportion of the EU’s sheep production.

Peter Hardwick, EBLEX head of trade development, said: “This is something that EBLEX and the NFU have recognised and worked hard on as a key priority for some time and we very much welcome this positive move. The change recognises that sheep farming often takes place in Less Favoured Areas of the EU, including in the UK, and that this sector needs support. It is therefore pleasing that there has finally been some recognition that the sector needs direct, generic promotion to stimulate consumption.

“There has been a steady decrease in consumption of lamb since 2000 and this change to the rules will help increase consumer awareness of the sustainability and quality of the product. It will stimulate demand for European lamb products, particularly in major export markets such as France, and help fight competition from New Zealand.

“This is a great opportunity to encourage lamb consumption across Europe. EBLEX already works closely with the French, Irish and other UK levy boards to promote lamb generically in the French market. We will be looking to strengthen this activity by extending it to work in other member states and in the home market.”

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, who also chairs the European Commission Advisory Committee on Sheepmeat, said it was a victory for the industry’s lobbying efforts in Brussels.

“We have pushed this from every angle to get our message heard, working with EBLEX and the EU farmers’ organisation Copa to repeatedly push the European Commission to use its powers to bring about the change,” said Sercombe.

“The sheep sector has had a torrid time recently with the disastrous winter still very fresh in the mind. This change in the rules will allow us to go out and promote the sales of our fantastic product and I know EBLEX already has ideas about how we might access money and promote lamb in the UK and across Europe.”

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