8 May 2017

UK supermarkets ban fresh NZ lamb

2:22 pm on 8 May 2017

A decision by UK supermarkets to ban fresh New Zealand lamb is bad news for the industry and could turn consumers away from the meat, says Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

The Uruguay round increased the amount of lamb New Zealand could export to the UK to 228,000 tonnes.

The UK and New Zealand lamb seasons complemented each other and it was not good to disrupt that balance, said Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons. Photo: 123RF

Supermarket chain Co-op Food, which is the UK's fifth largest retailer, is banning fresh New Zealand lamb in response to lobbying from the British Sheep Association.

Last year, Marks & Spencer's made a similar decision to only sell Scottish lamb in its Scottish stores.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons said the UK and New Zealand lamb seasons complemented each other and disrupting this balance was not good.

He said the number of people choosing lamb at the supermarket could drop if British consumers got lamb that was not in season.

"British lamb is a good quality product, but if it's old season lamb - because they need to now supply fresh lamb for 12 months of the year from the UK - then they won't get the same quality eating experience and prices will go up for them."

Mr Parsons said the move from the supermarkets was a bit of a stunt and he doubted it would last because there was not enough supply from the UK.

"If consumers don't get a good enough eating experience then they just go to other proteins.

"Producers in both countries would lose ... at the end of the day, the retailers are just about selling items on the shelf so their loyalty to lamb is only there whilst it is working for them."

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said it was in both countries' interests that the market was stable.

"We act responsibly, it's not in our interests to put more product on the market than it can bear because that would de-stabilise prices and reflect back to reduced returns here.

"We do adjust our shipments to reflect the need for stability in the marketplace."

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