Scottish union voices concern on retailers’ lamb policy

The National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) has criticised some major retailers for not stocking enough Scottish and British lamb.

NFUS’ ScotchWatch scheme, which assesses the amount of labelled Scottish meat on supermarket shelves, has reported: “The switch away from imported produce to home-produced new-season lamb in some stores has been disappointingly slow and, in the case of Asda, is still far from complete.”

With various NFUS marketing campaigns in action, including the ‘Love Scotch Lamb Weekend’ launching this August, the union said that while many stores are now 100% stocked with Scottish or British lamb, there was still a substantial amount of New Zealand and Australian lamb on supermarket shelves in July.

NFUS’ food chain policy manager Kylie Barclay said: “Ample supplies of Scottish and British product have been available since June, but as late as July this year, many retailers – Asda, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – still had significant amounts of imported lamb on display.”

Barclay explained that the picture was more positive this month: “Our August shelf watch results have been far more positive, with only Asda still retaining NZ product. The fact that most retailers have made the switch to Scottish and British product is good news for our Love Lamb weekend later this month. While August’s results are more encouraging than previous months, it doesn’t mask the fact that this move could, and should, have been made by the retailers sooner, given that there was plentiful supply of good quality Scotch and British lambs available from June this year.

“It can be done. There were retailers – Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons for example – who were stocking 100% Scottish or British lamb back in June and Scottish farmers congratulate those retailers for their solid support this season. More importantly, these retailers exhibit a year-round commitment to British or Scottish, which seriously puts into question why other retailers feel the need to abandon local supply for significant parts of the year.”

NFUS’ ScotchWatch results for June found the percentage of imported New Zealand or Australian lamb in the stores visited was: Asda (16%); M&S (13%); Sainsbury’s (38%) and Tesco (50%).

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