#BritishLambWeek social media campaign hailed a success

Following a difficult few months for British lamb, the industry has taken to social media to promote the meat with an encouraging lift in sales for independent retailers.

Between 1-7 September butchers, farmers and all those who back the industry encouraged members of the public to support home-grown British lamb, instead of buying imported meat using the hashtag #BritishLambWeek.

The campaign follows #NoLambWeek, which saw lamb producers withholding their produce from retailers in a row over low prices.

Lee Horsley Frost of WH Frost Ltd in Chorlton, Manchester, ran a competition in connection with his supplier Hartshead Meats, giving customers the chance to win an entire lamb if they retweeted his message. Its gone really well with lots of entries from all over the country. Its also boosted lamb sales in the shop, weve had our best Tuesday in years and sales have been fantastic, he said.

He added that this is how the #NoLambWeek farmers should have raised awareness for falling lamb prices. Its a more positive message and it gets the public involved and interested. I dont think their campaign really worked. They would have been better off directing the public to their local butcher, which stocks British lamb.

Lincolnshire-based Meridian Meats, which sources its lamb from eight miles away, took also took the opportunity to raise awareness about local produce. Something that strikes me is that there is a section of consumers that wants to know where their stuff has come from, and thats paramount in their purchasing decision, said Jim Sutcliffe, owner of Meridian Meats.

But theres a big chunk of the customer base, whether its in our shop or in meat retail in general, that just pick it up and dont look into it any further. Things like British Lamb Week just make people stop for two seconds longer and have a look, which has to be a good thing. Reporting a 10%-20% increase in sales, the promotional week has evidently had a positive impact on Sutcliffes business.

The campaign was praised by National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive Phil Stocker. It has been great to see the lamb price just a little stronger during British Lamb Week. There are several other factors in play of course, including the slight improvement in exchange rate and forthcoming ethnic festivals. However we would hope and expect that some of the good promotional work being done, as well as the good quality products on offer, is starting to have an effect.

For a fledgling initiative, the feedback NSA has had suggests British Lamb Week has been a big success and I hope it will have given us something constructive to build on in future years.

According to a report from AHDB Beef & Lamb, the UK imported 7,092 tonnes of lamb and mutton in June of this year. Of that total, 5,190t was imported from New Zealand.

However, the UK has experienced a decrease in imports over recent years. In 2013, the country imported 63,062t of lamb and mutton compared to 58,939t in 2014, according to the AHDB report.

In terms of British lamb it seems crazy to me that we have got a natural landscape thats been managed for everyones enjoyment, specifically for lamb, so it can be produced and enjoyed rather than importing it from numerous places all over the world, said Christine Hope of Hopes of Longtown.

The farm shop, located in Hereford, prides itself on its local produce. Some lamb is sourced from two fields away. Despite their strong traceability, Hope admits that they still have work to do. The profile has been raised, but I think smaller retailers like myself need to do more to improve their image, she said about her lamb products.

We have a small but quite important tourism trade and they want local produce, she added. However, she confessed that in order to portray this image to her customers, we really need to improve our marketing side.

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