NFU Scotland has written to some of the UK’s largest retailers asking when they expect to exclusively stock home produced lamb in their stores.

While imported lamb has long been a feature on shop shelves, particularly at this time of year, farmers are frustrated and angered when they see some supermarkets continue to stock imported lamb well in to the period during which Scottish and UK lamb is in plentiful supply.

This week, NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam wrote to those major retailers who routinely sell imported lamb – Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Co-op – asking when they planned to switch to quality domestic lamb and asking them to consider extending their season for buying home produced.

Working with Marks and Spencer, the Union has welcomed its recent decision to extend its season for buying UK lamb into the New Year, boosting the demand for later maturing hill breeds such as the Blackface, Shetland and Cheviot.

The Union also wrote and thanked Morrison’s, Lidl and Aldi for their consistent support for exclusively stocking domestic lamb all year round in their Scottish stores.

In his letter to retailers, Mr Adam stressed the Union’s willingness to continue to work closely with all supermarkets to build on the reputation for lamb produced in Scotland.  In recent years, NFU Scotland members have taken part in many consumer-facing events involving all major retailers, encouraging shoppers to try and buy more Scottish produce, including lamb.

NFU Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam said: “Farmers are out lambing across Scotland right now, and they want to know there will be a reward for their hard work and a ready market for their produce.

“As an industry, we are very proud of what we produce and, given the great story we have to tell, we want shoppers to be able to buy lamb which has been bred and reared here in Scotland all year round.

“For those retailers who regularly stock imported lamb, we want to know when they are planning to switch to domestic lamb this year. Some of the largest retailers in Scotland fail to stock domestic lamb exclusively during periods when supplies of our lamb are more than sufficient to meet demand.

“We are urging them to work together with the industry to bolster the profile of our lamb.  Extending their season for domestic lamb by a few weeks at the start or the end of the season would make a huge difference to Scottish sheep producers.

“Through working with Marks and Spencer’s, NFU Scotland managed to extend the domestic season for lamb into the New Year. More buyers of our lamb in January is a real boost to Blackface, Shetland and hill Cheviot farmers whose later maturing produce takes a little longer to get to market but the quality of which is hard to beat. We appreciate M&S’s move and we will work with any retailer looking to extend their lamb season.

“That said, retailers like Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi show that a year round commitment to offering quality Scottish lamb is achievable, is valued by Scottish shoppers, and is something that we would want to see all retailers strive towards.”

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