NZ says there will be no more promotion of its lamb in the UK this year

Mike Petersen, chairman of Meat & Wool New Zealand said today that there would be no further Meat & Wool New Zealand media promotion of New Zealand lamb in the British market this year.

"UK farmers are deeply concerned at the impact of Foot and Mouth disease on the prices they will be able to receive for their meat. While the UK Government has now lifted the movement ban that initially prevented livestock being sent to abattoirs following the Foot and Mouth outbreak, until export markets are reopened to British meat, British farmers will deprived of their key export lamb market in France.

"This means that, at the peak of the British production season, all meat produced will have to be placed on the home market."

Petersen said that New Zealand farmers truly sympathized with their British counterparts whose prices had been under further pressure with the closure of export outlets. "In the present circumstances, media promotion of New Zealand lamb in the UK would be inappropriate,"he said.

At the same time, the sudden cessation of exports of British lamb to the continent, especially France, has quickly led to a firming of prices there and increased demand from continental importers seeking additional supplies of New Zealand lamb.

"Most of New Zealand's annual quota to the European Union has already been exported and with New Zealand lamb production at its seasonal winter low, lamb supplies are not going to be available in any volume until the new production season commences towards the end of 2007. Some exporters have already observed that the market is working, and increased demand from the continent is ensuring that where possible New Zealand lamb is being redirected from the UK to the continent for supply in the next few months," Petersen said.

He added that while Meat & Wool New Zealand's media promotion activity was planned for New Zealand lamb in the UK market from February 2008, the organization would review the market situation before those plans are implemented.

Petersen said that he had been in continuing dialogue with the British industry since his visit in June to the UK to talk with sheep industry organisations in Wales and England. Recent contact with Rees Roberts, Chairman of the Meat Promotion Wales confirmed strong support for New Zealand taking this position given the current market situation, and equally it conveys New Zealand has a common interest with sheep farmers in Britain in working cooperatively to secure the best possible returns from the market.

Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has welcomed the announcement from Meat & Wool New Zealand today that their promotion activity in the UK will be suspended.

HCC Chairman Rees Roberts confirmed that there would be strong support from the Welsh industry for New Zealand taking this position, given the current market situation as a result of the Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Roberts said: "By making a commitment to suspend promotion activity in support of their supplies into the UK until February 2008, New Zealand is giving our farmers the opportunity to get back on their feet following the recent Foot and Mouth outbreak."

Earlier this year, HCC facilitated a meeting between Meat and Wool New Zealand and the Welsh Farming Unions to discuss mutual issues. It was agreed that further meetings would take place to ensure that open dialogue is maintained between both parties in the future.

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