Sainsbury’s makes payment promise for lamb farmers

Sainsbury’s makes payment promise for lamb farmers

Sainsbury’s chief executive, Justin King, announced today that British lamb farmers affected by the adverse weather would receive significantly more than the current market price through the Lamb Development Group (SLDG).

Many farmers across the UK have been affected by the recent wet weather, with farmers struggling to raise lambs to the ideal weight at the right time of the season. Following the announcement, the price will increase to £3.80/kg, setting it at least 60p/kg above the market. This will be funded by Sainsbury’s and will be paid to 800 sheep farmers that make up the SLDG until the end of February. Supply from the group goes into by Sainsbury’s and Taste the Difference lamb sold on our meat counter and in the aisle.

King said: “We’re passionate about sourcing British products and we’re very proud of what has been achieved through our farming Development Groups over the last five years. Because of the close relationship we have built with our farmers we can react quickly to the volatile market conditions, which is why we have announced a new price for our lamb farmers today.

“Customers trust us to do the right thing to help them Live Well for Less which is where our values set us apart. We always maintain high social, ethical and environmental standards in everything we do – that includes investing in the farmers that we work with. Our customers also want to buy high quality, fresh British food which is why we have committed to double the amount of British food we sell by 2020.

“One of our key values is to source with integrity and offer the best produce from local producers, so working with more local farmers and suppliers is also paramount to our growth.”

On the visit to the Pontypridd store, the CEO also highlighted that the retailer currently sources at least £40 million worth of products from Wales ranging from Lamb to Welsh cakes for sale in stores across the UK, but would like to sign more.

The farming unions in the UK were positive about the move. NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “It’s positive that Sainsbury’s has listened to its farmer suppliers and although it only involves limited numbers and is for a limited time period, it lays down the challenge to other major retailers to ensure their lamb suppliers also receive a fair price.

“The NFU will be looking closely at the procurement activities of all major retailers in the coming days. The consumer showed last summer on milk that they will not accept retailers paying farmers below the costs of production for food. Sainsbury’s has recognised that sheep farmers cannot run businesses on current prices. It’s clearly time for the whole trade to now show they are committed to a sustainable UK lamb industry.”

NFUS president and Borders livestock farmer Nigel Miller said: “Sainsbury’s should be commended for taking this bold step, which should start returning some confidence to our beleaguered sheep farmers. This will provide a real boost to the cash flow of farms whose finances are being relentlessly hit by the combination of poor weather, poor market returns and high input costs.

“And where Sainsbury’s has gone, surely others should follow. This should be a wake-up call to all retailer buyers of Scotch Lamb of the imperative to support farmers as they enter the next production season.

“Our farmers should be encouraged by the fact that we shall continue to impress upon all retailers the need to pay them a price that covers their costs and allows them to reinvest in their businesses.”

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