FARMING leaders have welcomed Sainsbury’s announcement it will increase what it pays sheep farmers for their lamb.
The supermarket said last Friday it will pay its 800 lamb development group farmers £3.60/kg. The current price generally is £3.20/kg.
Stow producer and NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “This will provide a real boost to the cash flow of farms whose finances are being relentlessly hit by the combination of poor weather, poor market returns and high input costs.
And he said he hoped it would act as “a wake-up call to all retail buyers of Scotch Lamb of the imperative to support farmers as they enter the next production season”.
The boost follows the union’s ongoing ‘secret shopper’ missions in supermarkets. The latest last week found Morrisons stocking only Scottish or British lamb, Sainsbury’s selling its Blackface lamb label and some imported packs, but in Tesco and Asda the majority of lamb for sale was from New Zealand and Australia.
Mr Miller said: “The 2012/13 season has been a struggle from the start with sodden fields, poor growth rates in lambs, higher feed costs and falling returns. This is a time when sheep farmers need a confidence boost from their major customers – the UK supermarkets – with a clear signal that their product is wanted and valued.
“Morrisons show what can be achieved with 100 percent commitment to Scottish or British produce in the stores we visited with packs of lamb being sold at shop shelf prices that are comparable to its competitors.
Retail analysis suggests lamb consumption is improving, he said, adding: “We must build on that and make sure any additional consumption is home produced lamb.”
The National Sheep Association said the value of a single lamb was up to £30 less than a year ago, “but this has still not resulted in lower retail prices that would encourage more consumers to buy and enjoy British lamb”.