Shelfwatch Reveals Mixed Support in Scottish Supermarkets for Home Produced Lamb

Cooked LambNFU Scotland’s secret shoppers find huge variance in the amount of Scottish lamb available in the country’s biggest retailers

NFU Scotland’s latest shelfwatch, taking in 35 stores nationwide, has found a huge variance in the support being shown by supermarkets to Scottish lamb.

With lambing time just around the corner, members and staff at NFUS have been visiting supermarket stores across Scotland to identify the amount of Scottish lamb on shelves.  More than two-thirds of the lamb offered on supermarket shelves was found to be Scottish or British, but NFU Scotland believes that this is a figure that can be significantly improved by greater retailer support.

While Scottish lamb production traditionally falls toward the start of Spring, Scottish farmers believe that there is still enough lamb to fill Scottish store shelves and meet the year-round demand from Scottish shoppers for local, tasty home-produced lamb.  

While there is some welcome strengthening of support for the sector in some supermarket chains, the latest lamb watch reveals that some retailers are still stocking significant amounts of imported lamb.

The results reveal an honouring of the commitment made by Marks and Spencer to exclusively sell home-produced lamb in Scotland, achieved following NFU Scotland lobbying. It is joined by Aldi and Lidl stores in having the highest proportion of British and Scottish lamb on shelves.

NFU Scotland members expressed concern that Morrisons, a long-standing supporter of Scottish and British farmers, had worrying volumes of imported lamb available and NFUS has contacted the retailer on the matter.

Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-op were found to have the largest percentage volumes of imported lamb.  The Co-op has previously pledged to NFU Scotland that, from May 2017, it will exclusively source home-produced lamb for its stores.

NFU Scotland will continue to press Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose for a strengthened commitment to home-produced lamb.

Looking at the results Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam said: “With lambing just around the corner, Scottish farmers, crofters and shoppers will be happy to hear that most stores visited had Scottish and British lamb in stock and I would encourage anyone to buy Scottish lamb and support local food production.

“Some members taking part in this latest shelf watch were justifiably angry at the levels of imported lamb in certain stores.  We have contacted those retailers, not just expressing our concerns, but to point out the great support that others are showing to Scottish sheep producers and their customers through their lamb sales.

“It is positive to see the continued commitment to sourcing Scottish and British lamb from Marks and Spencer, Aldi and Lidl and this must be commended. Members found that the Co-op carried very little home-produced lamb but it is important to note that it has committed to exclusively sourcing home-produced lamb for its supply chain in from May onwards.

“As well as working with supermarkets to increase the amount of our lamb on shop shelves, we also want to see what we can do collectively to increase lamb consumption in Scotland and we look forward to working with supermarkets to achieve this in the future, building on Scotch Lamb promotions and the many lamb tastings that NFUS and others have held around the country in recent years.

“Overall, our shelf watchers found 69 percent of the lamb on shelves was produced in the UK and we want to see this proportion rise in future years.  We continue to urge our members to keep an eye on shop shelves and let us know both good news and bad news on Scottish lamb being offered.”

Notes to Editors

  • NFU Scotland’s shelf watch surveyed 35 supermarket stores, across Scotland, looking at fresh lamb offerings. Results showed a 69% commitment to lamb produced in the UK. Overall, 3241 packs of fresh lamb were counted.
  • The NFUS lamb shelfwatch survey took place between 22 and 27 February 2017.  In summary, the shelf watch findings were:
    • Aldi – Total number of packs: 174 (Scottish: 174 [100%]).  Stores visited: Anderson Drive Aberdeen; Forfar; Gorgie Edinburgh and Inveralmond Perth.
    • Asda – Total number of packs: 948 (Scottish: 197 [21%], British: 458 [48%], New Zealand: 293 [31%]).  Stores visited: Bridge of Dee Aberdeen; Fraserburgh; Huntly; Jesmond Road Aberdeen; Kingsway West Dundee and Muirton Perth.
    • Co-op – Total number of packs: 99 (British: 3 [3%], New Zealand: 96 [97%]).  Stores visited: Aberfeldy; Aboyne; Alford; Banchory; Fyvie and Turriff.
    • Lidl – Total number of packs: 37 (Scottish: 37 [100%]).  Stores Visited: Forfar and King Street Aberdeen.
    • Marks and Spencer – Total number of packs: 62 (Scottish: 6 [10%], British: 56 [90%]).  Stores visited: Gyle Edinburgh.
    • Morrisons – Total number of packs: 343 (Scottish: 270 [79%], British: 20 [6%], Australian: 53 [15%]).  Stores visited: Forfar Road Dundee; King Street Aberdeen and Gyle Edinburgh.
    • Sainsbury’s – Total number of packs: 399 (Scottish: 115 [29%], British: 89 [22%], New Zealand: 195 [49%]).  Stores visited: Bedford Road Aberdeen; Braehead Glasgow and Bridge of Dee, Aberdeen.
    • Tesco – Total number of packs: 1040 (Scottish: 431 [42%], British: 357 [34%], New Zealand: 252 [24%]).  Stores visited: Ellon; Forfar; Fraserburgh; Huntly; Irvine; McDairmid Park Perth; Glenearn Road Perth; Oban and Turriff.
    • Waitrose – Total number of packs: 139 (British: 19 [14%], New Zealand: 120 [86%]).  Stores visited: Morningside Edinburgh.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 32/17

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