As shoppers prepare to start the big Christmas food shop this week, sheep farmers are suggesting consumers add British lamb to their festive trolleys this year.
In a break from the traditional offerings of turkey or goose, the National Sheep Association (NSA) says that buying lamb or mutton backs local farmers and the environment.
The meat is also ‘packed with nutrients’ and is produced using ‘traditional methods’, the organisation adds.
“If then you are looking for a slightly smaller joint of meat to enjoy over the Christmas period, why not try a delicious leg of lamb or mutton?" said Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive.
"It can be enjoyed with all the favourite festive trimmings and is a meat that is packed with nutrients and has been sustainably produced using traditional farming methods by the nation’s hard-working sheep farmers."
As the UK approaches the end of the year, the nation’s farmers nervously await a decision on whether a trade deal can be secured before the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 December.
An interruption to the trade of lamb with Europe could 'adversely affect' the UK sheep sector, the NSA warns, so choosing lamb as a Christmas meat could help support the sector.
Mr Stocker said: “Consumers choosing to enjoy lamb this Christmas will not be disappointed and, hopefully, it will encourage the continued consumption of this delicious, healthy meat into the New Year.
"But be sure to check you are purchasing UK produced lamb and not that imported from our Southern Hemisphere colleagues.
"Purchasing UK lamb will help to assure a healthy domestic market for sheep meat is maintained at this crucial time.”
As the nation has been forced to spend more time at home this year due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the consumption of UK produced lamb has increased.
The NSA says this is an 'encouraging move' that could also be due to successful marketing campaigns by the UK meat levy boards.
“Free-range, extensively produced sheepmeat is a great choice year-round, and especially at times of celebration such as Christmas," Mr Stocker said.
"NSA hopes consumers enjoy it as part of their festivities this year and wishes everyone a very Happy Christmas and positive New Year, whatever that may bring.”