Shoppers Urged to Love Scotch Lamb

Consumer support key as lamb prices hit five year low

Scotland’s sheep producers are enduring their worst season for five years and are urging consumers to get behind Scotch lamb.

The weakening Euro is crippling all Scottish sectors especially those, like lamb, which are reliant on a thriving export market.  With lamb exports under pressure, it is even more important that Scottish shoppers – and our supermarkets – get behind Scotch lamb this season.

As well as looking to boost sales of tasty Scotch lamb, the Union is also quizzing major retailers on who is making profit out of this hugely difficult season for farmers?

At this time last year, when lamb prices were healthier; it was estimated that around 60 percent of the retail price was making its way back to the farmgate.  With Scottish farmers receiving 20 percent less for their lambs now than they were a year ago, the proportion of retail value coming back to farmers is less than 50 percent. The price on supermarket shelves for lamb has not fallen to the same extent as market prices and the Union is adamant that in this difficult year, farmers must receive a fairer share of the end price.

That call for a fairer share of the retail price for lamb is part of a seven-point plan put in place by the Union to support the crucial Scottish sheep sector.  Driven by the Union’s Livestock Committee, and supported by members across the Union’s network of branches, it focuses on retail sales, promotion and public procurement.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “There isn’t a sector in Scotland that the moment that isn’t toiling on market returns or costs and for the country’s 12,000 sheep keepers, it is now or never if we are to turn this season around.

“Those selling prime lambs are receiving 20 percent less for their efforts when compared to last year and those with store lambs to sell for further finishing are just about to enter an uncertain market.

“In the wake of currency fluctuations and challenging export trade, home consumption is key and farmers are keen to play their part.  It is also inherent that the retail and processing parts of the lamb food chain deliver a fair share of the returns back to the farmgate if our producers are to have the confidence to continue producing this fantastic product in the future.

“We share sheep farmers’ deep disappointment that the share of the retail price currently going back to the farm has fallen from 60 percent to 50 percent in the last twelve months. I think Scottish shoppers will be astonished to learn that for every £10 they spent on succulent Scotch lamb, only £5 of that goes back to those working round the clock in all weather conditions to look after their stock, to the highest standards, to produce the tastiest lamb on the planet.

“This year we really need and value the support of consumers.  We know that a third of households regularly buy and enjoy tasty Scotch lamb.  That leaves a huge opportunity for industry, retailers and farmers to get more families in Scotland and the UK into the way of loving Scotch lamb.  Boosting home consumption will hold the key to turning this difficult season around.

“Our national ‘Wham Bam Thank You Lamb’ lamb campaign, headed up by Quality Meat Scotland will start to target 3.7 million consumers in August and will include billboard, press coverage and radio advertising as well as on-line and in-store promotion. Last year, Scottish sheep farmers came out in droves to support lamb promotion activities at supermarkets, flower shows, and in restaurants helping to secure an 11% increase in lamb sales and an extra 28,800 Scottish households buying lamb.

“For the good of our iconic sheep sector, we need a repeat performance and NFU Scotland members will be playing their part with events already planned in Aberdeenshire, Argyll, the Borders, Forth and Clyde.”  

Notes to editors

  • Retail Price Spreads for lamb: (from AHDB)

Retail Price Spreads for lamb: (from AHDB)

  • Working with more than 200 branch monitors across Scotland, NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee has established a seven-point action plan to boost the Scottish lamb market.  The plan includes:
    • Lobbying supermarkets to support lamb. NFUS spent the Highland Show lobbying supermarkets to get more lamb into shoppers’ baskets. Lamb offers a real taste experience and we were urging retailers to highlight this to consumers.
    • Speaking to shoppers about lamb. This year NFUS will once be promoting lamb and the sheep industry directly to the public. We will time the promotion to coincide with Scotland’s peak lamb production in August.
    • Challenging the volumes of foreign lamb on shelves. NFUS have met retailers and processors to call for a reduced season of New Zealand/Australian product on the shelves. To get real change, we are asking retailers to extend the buying period for Scotch in the winter by 2 weeks and for them to enter the lamb market 2 weeks earlier in the spring.
    • Debating increased promotion. The August and September Scotch lamb promotion last year saw sales go up by 11% during that period. The QMS campaign involved billboards, radio, newspapers and social media. The livestock committee is debating whether a longer campaign would have a bigger impact on Scotch lamb consumption. And importantly, they will be considering how this could be funded.
    • Improving Scottish sheep breeding. NFUS is also looking at the long term prospects for the sheep industry in Scotland. We are working with SRUC and QMS to set up a breeding project to improve the national flock. 
    • Encouraging the public sector to buy more lamb. NFUS has been meeting Scottish Government officials to secure more lamb on the menu. Lamb is a healthy meat and ideal for pupils in schools and NHS patients. Currently 79% of lamb in Local Authorities is Scottish and 100% is Scottish in NHS Scotland
    • Lamb shelf watch. NFUS are regularly watching shelves to see which supermarkets are backing Scotch/British lamb and which ones are stocking foreign product. We use this information to highlight to the public where to buy their lamb if they want to support local farmers. We feel that the public need to be made aware of where to buy their lamb before they arrive at the supermarket having to check labels.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Date Published:

News Article No.: 140/15

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