Supermarkets criticised as lamb price slumps

The actions of some supermarket chains that have been actively promoting foreign meat when there is a plentiful supply of Welsh Lamb was criticised on the opening day of the Royal Welsh Show.

“I’m sorry to say that some multiple retailers have not shared our vision of cooperation within the industry and have been complicit in maintaining the supply of imported as opposed to home grown lamb,” said Dai Davies, Chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales.

“I urge them to reconsider their sourcing policies and decide whether they really want to sacrifice the long term future of the UK’s supply chain for a short term gain.”

Farmers and other leading figures in the UK meat industry have been angered by the amount of New Zealand lamb that is still being promoted by certain supermarkets at the expense of Welsh Lamb.

“Lamb prices have been in decline for most of the year, hitting worryingly low levels,” Mr Davies told a breakfast reception on the showground for leading figures in the UK red meat industry.

“Low enough, in fact, to make some sheep farmers wonder whether there is a realistic future for them.”

Farmers are receiving between £25 and £30 per head less for their sheep this year than during the same period last year.

Mr Davies said there were many reasons for the fall the main one being an increase in imports due to the strength of the pound against foreign currencies.

“Now let me make it clear that I am not against international trade – after all Welsh Lamb does extremely well in the export market,” said Mr Davies.

“Lamb is a seasonal product and New Zealand has traditionally played a role by maintaining a steady supply when Welsh Lamb is not available. That means that consumers’ appetite for lamb is sustained throughout the year

“But we are increasingly finding imported lamb encroaching on our season, with product still on the shelves in July and into next month. To be frank they are taking liberties, undermining the competitiveness of our supply chain and putting the future of our sheep industry at risk.

Mr Davies said that at last year’s show he criticised some of our supermarkets for not doing enough to promote home-grown beef at a time when the beef sector in Wales was struggling.

“While the beef situation has improved, the lamb price has worsened,” he said. “HCC is determined to play its part to stimulate demand among consumers for Welsh Lamb.

“We have been talking to the multiple retailers about their roles, urging them to give greater prominence to Welsh Lamb and we are diverting more money into our annual Welsh Lamb advertising campaign, launching it almost two months earlier than normal,” said Mr Davies.

“The campaign has already started and will run through to November. It includes  a new TV advert and digital marketing, large posters strategically placed at 150 locations near supermarkets and High Streets across Britain and an on-pack promotion featuring a major prize.

“I can assure all our stakeholders that HCC is doing everything it can to promote Welsh Lamb to consumers.”