Increase in imported lamb at Scottish supermarkets
The latest shelf watch study undertaken by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has revealed that 11% of lamb available in Scottish supermarkets is imported, up from 3% in August 2016.
According to NFU Scotland, “almost all” of the imported lamb percentage was found on Asda and Tesco’s shelves, which were found to sell 30% and 21% New Zealand lamb, respectively.
The shelf watch surveyed 46 supermarket stores across Scotland, looking at fresh lamb offerings.
Results showed an 89% commitment to lamb produced in Scotland and the UK, up from 44% in April 2017, but down from 97% in August 2016.
All lamb in Aldi and Lidl stores visited was, according to the report, clearly identified as Scottish, while in Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op, all lamb was either British or Scottish.
NFU Scotland’s livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam said: “This is a bitter sweet survey at a crunch time for Scottish sheep producers.
“Next week sees 18,500 store lambs from hill farmers and crofters pass through the iconic sale rings at Lairg, providing a valuable barometer on the sheep sector’s fortunes. At the same time, sales of prime Scottish lambs are building towards a peak.”
He also noted that next week sees the annual Scotch Lamb promotion campaign start, with a month-long programme of activity to promote the quality and provenance of the Scottish product.
He added that NFU Scotland has worked towards encouraging all retailers to stock Scottish during peak season, as well as looking for retailers who regularly import lamb at certain times of the year to extend the season for buying Scottish.
Commenting on Asda and Tesco, Adam stated that “further work is needed if we are to see Tesco and Asda fully back Scottish sheep farmers”.
He added: “High stocks of imported lamb remain on their shelves meaning that availability of Scottish and UK lamb is now significantly worse than it was at this time last year.
“The clear message for Asda and Tesco from this survey is that Scottish shoppers want to buy tasty Scotch lamb all-year-round.”
Responding to the claims, a Tesco spokesman told Meat Management: “We clearly label the origin of our fresh lamb and offer customers a choice to buy British all year round.
“Our fresh meat counters only sell British lamb and over the last three months, whilst best in season, fresh lamb across our stores has continued to be largely from the UK.”
Meat Management contacted Asda for comment and has not yet received a response.