COOL affecting lamb prices in Northern Ireland

Country-of-origin labelling (COOL) has caused lamb prices in Northern Ireland to slump, because UK consumers are put off buying lamb labelled as being from another country, the National Sheep Association (NSA) has claimed. 

This is despite the fact Northern Ireland has always supplied lamb to the UK, Edward Adamson, regional manager for the NSA, told Meat Trades Journal.

A Stormont Committee heard earlier this week that average lamb prices were down to around £80 a head from £105 last year.

This was due to a combination of the COOL rule and the weak euro driving down prices, said Adamson. Almost half of Northern Ireland lamb is sent across the border for slaughter.

“It will be hard to get back to last year’s prices,” said Adamson.

He added there were concerns among farmers that when NI lamb reached a peak at the end of June, there might be a shortage of slaughtering capacity, if abattoirs in the Republic decided it wasn’t worth buying NI lamb. “We are worried that if they are not in the market buying our lambs, there won’t be the kill capacity to get them all processed. And that means another challenge, because they will be even cheaper as it is less of a market. Then they stay on farm and get overweight and out of spec.”

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