British lamb still not receiving full home support

Recent figures show that the UK’s leading supermarket, Tesco, is still failing to support British lamb. The data highlighted that the amount of local lamb stocked in the supermarket chain had seen a significant decrease.

“In June, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond tabled a question at Tesco’s AGM [annual general meeting] and urged the retailer to demonstrate exactly how it is delivering on its promises and commitments made at the NFU Conference in 2013 and to give firm evidence that progress is being made,” said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe.

“They then confirmed that the promises to source more meat closer to home – which they made nearly three years ago – still stood. Just days ago the UK farming unions met with Tesco to discuss the challenges facing British agriculture.”

The news was revealed in the latest AHDB Beef & Lamb Watch, which proved that Tesco’s lamb facings for August 2015 fell by 15% compared to August 2014.

Sercombe claimed that Tesco was saying one thing, but doing another. “Using facings as a key indicator, Tesco’s support for domestic lamb is not just below average, but it appears to be bottom of the pile. We are challenging Tesco to explain how this reduction in the percentage of British lamb sold is compatible with its open public commitments to source more meat closer to home. British farmers are once again asking why, in the peak of British lamb season, is Tesco not backing British?”

The evidence produced by AHDB Beef & Lamb supports the NFU’s own beef and lamb watch exercise carried out in August. The project asked NFU members to provide the body with information on the lamb available in Tesco and Asda over two weeks. Members were encouraged to highlight instances of sourcing and labelling practices.

They were also asked to identify pricing and promotional activity taking place within the stores and whether or not this included British lamb.

“Tesco says it has long-term aims to support British sheep producers by growing its Sustainable Lamb Group partnership, but this will take time for farmers to see the benefits. We need to see positive steps now to source British lamb, which is at its best.”

Despite the knock-back for British lamb farmers and producers, Sercombe did recognise that the latest AHDB Beef & Lamb report had a silver lining. “On the plus side, the AHDB report highlights those retailers who are consistently supporting British farming, such as Waitrose, Budgens, Aldi and Morrisons, who all have 100% British lamb facings. Meanwhile, The Co-operative, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Lidl are showing signs of improvement, but could still do better.”

AHDB Beef & Lamb Watch for Tesco

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