Retailers pledge support for British lamb to NFU

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has held positive talks with a number of retailers in light of members’ protest action against Tesco promoting New Zealand lamb, at the Royal Welsh Show.

Around 60 members of the NFU held a protest at the show earlier this month, after Tesco had been promoting New Zealand lamb during the prime British lambing season, while lamb from the Southern Hemisphere was coming to the end of its season.

Charles Sercombe, chairman of the NFU livestock board, said at the time that farmers were angry at the way some retailers were continuing to promote end-of-season product, and that it was highlighting Tesco as a key offender. He said: “We believe they are failing to live up to the commitments made by their outgoing chief executive Philip Clarke at the NFU conference last year that Tesco should be the best supporter of British farmers and that it wished to shorten the supply chain.”
Tesco has since said it was “proud to sell and promote British lamb”, and that “over the next few weeks we are running fantastic half-price promotions on British lamb in our stores”.

Peter Garbutt, chief livestock advisor at the NFU, told Meat Trades Journal that there was no further action planned against the retailer on this particular issue and that the NFU had held satisfactory talks with Tesco following the protest, in which it had voiced its support for British farmers and said that it expected to sell more British lamb in its stores this summer than ever before.

“The [protest] action was targeted towards one particular campaign. It had nothing to do with price, it was purely due to the fact that our lamb is in prime season at the moment. What upsets our members is seeing a preference for New Zealand at this time of the year,” Garbutt said, adding that the NFU had also received assurances from other retailers about their support for British farmers both at the show, and following it.

“A lot had planned to change over to British lamb in June/July, all the way to Christmas,” said Garbutt, adding, “some retailers have also brought their promotions forward.”

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