NFU calls on retailers to support British lamb

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has urged all major retailers to strengthen their commitments to sourcing peak-season British lamb. 

Following up on a letter sent earlier this month to Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, The Co-operative, Aldi, Brakes, Sodexo, Whitbread, Lidl and Compass, NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe praised those who had made progress and urged others to follow suit.

He said: “The real win is in the foodservice industry, with leaders at Brakes who should be praised for their efforts in being clear about their sourcing commitments. I’m also delighted that The Co-operative has listened to our concerns about this year’s early production and brought forward the season for its ‘Truly Irresistible’ British lamb supply by two weeks.

“Waitrose has told us that it’s working very closely with its farmer suppliers to develop a product that customers want. It’s also extremely positive that Sainsbury’s is now working with a larger lamb supply group.

“However, other retailers and foodservice companies really need to up their game. The NFU would like to see the supply chain working with producers to be clear about their season where possible, as well as developing longer-term relationships with suppliers that support our farmer members. It is also crucial that retailers and foodservice companies are clear about when they wish to source British and to what specification – producers need clear market signals in advance to make the right business decisions. We will, of course, continue to work with retailers and other parts of the supply chain to develop lamb sourcing policies which will ensure greater collaboration through the supply chain.”

The four areas raised by the NFU were: transparency and a commitment to deliver on British lamb sourcing – specifically clarity on when retailers' seasons start and finish; closer work with producers – direct contracts and improved communication, offering stability and confidence to producers and the potential to work towards buying British all year round; product development – outlining plans to develop new products to entice consumers to buy British lamb and enable lamb carcases to be balanced more easily; and clear labelling on British lamb and prominent use of the Red Tractor logo.

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