Tesco accused of giving too much support to NZ lamb

Tesco has denied consistently underestimating demand for British lamb after chef James Martin complained shelves were full of New Zealand product over the Easter weekend. 

It is not the first time Tesco has faced such complaints: last year a row broke out between Tesco and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), after the retailer promoted NZ lamb in the middle of the British season.

Martin tweeted over the weekend pictures of packs of NZ lamb asking ‘Why is your shelf full of this when British is in season? Don’t normally have a go, but this is madness!’

Tesco responded by claiming its lamb promotions, including half price lamb legs had been so popular, it had been forced to restock with imported product.

“Our lamb this Easter has been predominantly sourced from British farms. However, the popularity of the lamb promotion we’ve been running means demand outstripped supply. So we don’t disappoint our customers, we’ve supplemented our British lamb with New Zealand lamb in a number of stores.”

However, Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, told MTJ that supply of British lamb this year was good, and he urged retailers to support the British industry. “I want this to be a year where we see everyone working together to make the most of what, I believe, is truly a world leading product.

“There was a good crop last year, slaughterings were up and there is plenty of British lamb around. I am surprised Tesco couldn’t have found enough. I get it – we need a balance of product with different price points and there is a better margin on NZ lamb – but I do get frustrated.”

A Tesco spokeswoman told MTJ: “We buy more British lamb than any other retailer and we will continue to do so. We are Britain’s number one agricultural customer and sell a vast range of lamb products. We have had quite a number of promotions, including some at half price and, to make sure we don’t disappoint customers, we have had to have some New Zealand lamb in some stores.”

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