Supermarket price wars affecting lamb market in Britain

Price wars between UK supermarkets are bringing pressure on the lamb market in Britain, according to a visiting British farmer representative.

Interviewed on Radio NZ’s Country Life programme recently, Joanne Briggs communications manager for the British National Sheep Association pointed to the wars between the traditional supermarkets – such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and ASDA – being compounded by additional pressure from the discounting retailers, such as Lidl and Aldi.

British farmers are under pressure from two points: price and specification, she says.

In addition, generally, around 40 percent of British lamb is exported but levels have been down this year because of the weak European market. New Zealand lamb, which accounts for around a third of lamb available at retail in the UK, was around for longer than expected, she says, which led to a more aggressive response from British farmers.

“We know we have to have lamb on shelves all year around at a sensible price,” she says, adding that her discussions have shown her that UK and NZ sheep producers are “in the same place” on the issue, but that there are people in the middle pitching them against each other.

She suggests more dialogue is needed between the two countries’ sheep farmers and more effort needs to be made to promote more year round lamb consumption.

Listen …

According to Meat Industry Association statistics, under a fifth (17 percent) of the volume of New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports went to the UK in the year to end September 2015 (66,512 tonnes worth $567 million), an increase of four percent on the year earlier

Joanne Briggs was over in New Zealand for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists World Congress, hosted by the New Zealand Guild in Hamilton in October.

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