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NFU asks Tesco to back British lamb

Recent pledges from supermarket giants Morrisons, Co-op, and Sainsbury’s to source British meat have given much-needed support to the lamb sector during prime season. 

Despite its claim to be UK agriculture’s biggest customer, reported figures suggest Tesco is failing to match competitors' support of UK farms.  

AHDB’s Beef and Lamb Watch found Tesco is the only retailer whose British lamb facings are falling, down 15% compared to last year.

Local lamb for Love Lamb Week

When AHDB initiatives like Love Lamb Week are working to put lamb in the minds of consumers—with the intention of supporting UK farmers—it’s even more important that British lamb be available in supermarkets to meet the driven demand.

READ MORE: UK shoppers prefer British produce, says survey

Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, called for Tesco to be clear on where their lamb is sourced.

“With Brexit looming, British lamb producers now more than ever need retailers to be clear on their sourcing commitments,” he said.

“Tesco has seemed to shy away from making clear to suppliers and customers what its sourcing policy is with lamb. With so many positive moves towards British farming among retailers, Tesco is sticking out like a sore thumb.”

Meat sourcing commitments encourage farmers to invest

In 2014, the NFU reported Tesco hadn’t made any real moves to support British lamb during prime season. Though time has passed, their position doesn’t appear to have changed.

Said NFU’s Sercombe:

“British farmers want to invest in their farms for the long term and clear sourcing commitments from retailers can help farmers to do this. Ambiguous sourcing only reduces farmer confidence to invest.

“UK production is at its peak and is highly competitive, leaving British farmers bewildered as to why British facings are going down and not up at Tesco.”

Less imports, more confidence

The NFU have previously called for re-evaluation of food sourcing, urging the government to introduce a financial plan that would allow British agriculture to grow to a level at which reliance on imports would be reduced.  

NFU President, Meurig Raymond, said greater investment was needed to allow farmers to increase production.

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