Morrisons has been accused of acting contrary to its strong commitment to British lamb by running a promotion of imported lamb legs.
The Bradford-based food retailer has a longstanding pledge to source all of its own-branded fresh lamb from British farms and the chain has reaffirmed that this remains its position.
However, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) claims that Morrisons’ separate ‘Market Deals’ brand, under which the retail chain is currently promoting Australian and New Zealand lamb legs, could cause shoppers to be confused about the origin of lamb on the supermarket’s shelves.
Charles Sercombe, livestock board chairman for the NFU, 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 in our view it’s a real shame that the retailer is now acting contrary to its commitments to consumers.
“We also have concerns that these imported products are being placed near British messaging at the point of sale, potentially leaving shoppers confused about the origin of the product they are purchasing.
“We want shoppers to be able to buy British food confidently.”
Mr Sercombe, who farms sheep in Leicestershire, added: “There is obviously a demand for British lamb so I would urge Morrisons to be clear to customers about what its commitments are.”
A spokesperson for Morrisons responded to the criticism, saying: “As has always been the case, all year round and in all stores, 100 per cent of Morrisons branded fresh lamb is British.
“As we have in previous years, we will run a handful of non-Morrisons branded promotions between Christmas and Easter when we sell a small amount of non-British lamb.
“This is because a large volume of one cut (the leg) is being sold out of balance to the rest of the carcass. Again, the country of origin is very clearly labelled and the product is sold away from the counter.”
Australia is the world’s largest sheep meat exporter and its lamb shipments rose by four per cent to over 260,000 tonnes during 2016.