SUPERMARKET giant Morrisons has been criticised by farmers for deviating from its commitment to source 100 per cent British lamb.
The National Farmers’ Union said it was “extremely disappointed” that the Bradford-based retail chain’s policy had “slipped” just a week before Christmas, as supermarket chiefs conceded that they had topped-up supplies with imported product.
Morrisons is currently running a promotion of lamb legs which, branded as ‘Morrisons Market Deals’, offers Australian and New Zealand lamb at discounted prices.
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Morrisons has traditionally been a strong backer of the British livestock industry and much of its messaging to shoppers is centred around being 100 per cent British on all fresh meat.
“We appreciate that Morrisons purchases around 750,000 lambs every year, but it’s a real shame that the retailer is now – despite its commitments to consumers - stocking imported product under a Morrisons own brand.
“It’s even more surprising as just yesterday (Thursday) Morrisons’ corporate sourcing director, Alex Brown, told the Efra Select Committee enquiry into farmgate prices that the retailer stocks 100 per cent British on fresh meat.”
Mr Sercombe urged Morrisons to be clear to customers about what its commitments are, and what consumers are buying and where it comes from.
A Morrisons spokesperson responded, saying: “We are committed to offering British lamb 52 weeks a year. However, there are a small number of occasions when we have to top-up with overseas lamb to meet customers’ needs.
“Right now, we are slaughtering just as many British lambs as we did last year and continue to work with our 1,500 lamb suppliers.”