Home   News   Article

Aberdeenshire farming leader says Morrison’s New Zealand lamb move is a ‘slap in the face’ for producers

By David Porter

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

UK supermarket Morrisons is set to begin trialling the sale of New Zealand lamb in some of its stores, after committing to only sourcing British lamb in 2017.

The New Zealand lamb will be sold in 39 Morrisons stores as part of the trial.as consumers look for cheaper lamb with year-round availability.

Andrew Connon NFU Scotland vice president has spoken out after supermarket chain Morrisons announced a trial of selling New Zealand sourced lamb.
Andrew Connon NFU Scotland vice president has spoken out after supermarket chain Morrisons announced a trial of selling New Zealand sourced lamb.

A Morrisons spokesperson said: “Morrisons will later this week start a trial selling New Zealand lamb in 39 stores. The trial follows an extensive exercise listing to customers who were very clear that they want us to sell lamb at a more accessible price all year round. The blunt commercial reality is that New Zealand lamb is cheaper to source, and therefore cheaper to sell, than British lamb. We will remain 100 per cent British lamb on all our butchers’ counters, and the New Zealand lamb will of course be clearly labelled so customers in these trial stores will see the difference and can make a choice. We do not intend this to mean a reduction in the overall volumes of lamb that we buy directly from British farmers.

Responding NFU Scotland Vice President Andrew Connon, a beef and sheep farmer from Ythanbank near Ellon in Aberdeenshire said: “As Scottish farmers and crofters emerge from a very challenging lambing time, the news that major retailer Morrisons is stepping back from its 2017 commitment to stock only Scottish and British lamb in its stores will feel a bit like a slap in the face. It comes at a time when volumes of fresh, tasty new season lamb are growing week by week, produced to the highest standards and to a quality that is second to none.That long-running support for Scottish and UK agriculture across all product categories has been a central part of Morrisons reputation, branding and marketing. Choosing to turn to New Zealand at this time, and paying scant regard to concerns over food miles, needs proper explanation to the industry, backed up by reassurances over the volumes of Scottish and British lamb that the retailer still intends to purchase in the future.

He continued: “Morrisons was a strong performer in our inaugural ShelfWatch campaign results published in February, which drilled down on the own-label offering in all our major retailers. That ShelfWatch showed all lamb in Morrisons to be identified as Scottish or British while establishing that Asda, Aldi, Tesco and M&S were all stocking imported lamb at that time. However, engagement with Morrisons has been difficult. Following our inaugural ShelfWatch results in February, we wrote to the Chief Executive of Morrisons requesting a meeting to discuss the results. That request has yet to be accepted. Working with other UK Farming Unions, we also wrote to the Chief Executive of Morrisons recently on food security and the retailer’s backing for Scottish and British produce in what has been an extremely challenging year. We have yet to receive a response to that letter.

He concluded: “Much of Morrisons reputation is built around its relationship and engagement with the farming industry. We need Morrisons to come to the table to discuss this move around lamb sourcing with those most affected.”

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) chair David Barton said: “British sheep farmers and shoppers will be incredibly disappointed that Morrisons has dropped its commitment to sell only British lamb, albeit on a trial basis. The retailer has built its reputation on British-only sourcing and supported British farmers through its fully integrated supply chain.

“This comes at a time when the livestock sector is already under pressure from the impacts of the unprecedented wet weather.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More