With a major Scotch Lamb promotion due to be launched this month, NFU Scotland’s latest look at supermarket shelves has shown that they are finally starting to fill with Scottish produce.
While the vast majority of retailers in Scotland are now 100 percent stocked with Scottish or British lamb, 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.
NFU Scotland found substantial amounts of New Zealand and Australian lamb still on supermarket shelves in July – despite significant numbers of Scottish lambs coming forward to the market. The situation had significantly improved by August with only Asda still stocking a significant volume of old season lamb from New Zealand and Australia. Recent statements from the retailer suggest that the switchover to 100 percent home-produced lamb will happen soon.
In a few weeks’ time NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland and the National Sheep Association will embark on a joint Love Lamb initiative which will see an unprecedented, united PR push behind Scotch Lamb.
NFU Scotland’s Food Chain Policy Manager, Kylie Barclay said: “Recent shelf watch results have shown that some retailers have been disappointingly slow to switch over to British and Scottish lamb. Ample supplies of Scottish and British product have been available since June but as late as July this year, many retailers - Asda, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco - still had significant amounts of imported lamb on display.
“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.
“Whilst 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 Morrison’s for example - who were stocking 100 percent 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 questions why other retailers feel the need to abandon local supply for significant parts of the year.
“However, at this time of year, there can be no excuses for the creeping presence of old season New Zealand or Australian lamb taking up valuable shelf space in some Scottish stores. This is peak season, and the presence of imported produce destabilises the normal marketing of Scottish lambs when they are at their best. That undermines all the hard work that Scottish farmers put into getting their fresh, tasty home-grown lamb into the marketplace at the right time.
“Our farmers take great pride in how they rear their lambs. We have a great product to sell and a great story to tell and that is part of what the forthcoming Love Lamb weekend is all about.”