Asda and Tesco have been criticised for failing to back British farming at the height of the domestic lamb season.
Both retailers failed to stock 100 per cent British lamb on their supermarket shelves during the country’s peak lamb production period, and there can be “no excuse” for doing so, the chief executive of the National Sheep Association (NSA) said.
Of ten major UK food retailers surveyed, the only other outlet that failed to stock all their lamb from British farms last month was Sainsbury’s which relied on imports for four per cent of its lamb. However the figures from AHDB Beef & Lamb Watch show Asda and Tesco had stocked far smaller proportions.
NSA chief Phil Stocker said: “August is peak production time for UK lamb and it is right that supermarket shelves be stocked with this premium product.
“Once again, Asda and Tesco were lagging behind at 70 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
“While it may be perceived as encouraging that figures from these chains are not as low as sometimes, this should be viewed in the context of difficult import conditions in recent months.
“The higher percentage of UK product on some supermarket shelves is a reflection of this rather than any change in sourcing policy.”
Mr Stocker praised those retailers that had sourced 100 per cent British throughout August and added: “If many can do it, from budget supermarkets right through to premium ones, there is no excuse for those who don’t.”
North Yorkshire sheep farmer, Richard Findlay, the regional livestock board chairman for the National Farmers’ Union, agreed.
He said: “Some retailers have shown they can competitively source British lamb all year round and it would be great if they could all do so, particularly Asda and Tesco. There is no reason why they couldn’t do what others do, even if it was just for the six to eight months that British lamb is at its best.”
A spokesperson for Leeds-based Asda told The Yorkshire Post: “We are committed to sourcing British products first and only stock lamb from elsewhere to ensure availability for our customers. We pride ourselves on complete traceability and transparency with all our products clearly labelled, so our customers can make an informed decision when buying their meat.”
And a spokesperson for Tesco said: “We are proud supporters of the British lamb industry and always offer customers 100 per cent British lamb on our counters and in our organic and finest* ranges. Throughout the British lambing season we also make sure that the majority of our lamb in store is British.”