Supermarkets are “taking advantage of lamb farmers”, according to #NoLambWeek campaigners.
Speaking to Meat Trades Journal, one of the farmers behind the #NoLambWeek campaign said it needed to happen to raise awareness of the issue.
Remaining anonymous to protect his identity and that of his farm, he explained how his business stands to lose £25,000 this year alone and that lamb prices are not going to rise anytime soon while the supermarkets keep retail prices the same.
“If they brought the price of lamb down, it would increase demand and we would all win. Instead though, they’re buying in lamb from New Zealand and flooding the market. We understand there are other factors affecting the market such as currency fluctuations but British supermarkets should be supporting British farmers and British produce but instead they’re just abusing them.”
According to farmers, their share of lamb sold on supermarket shelves has dropped from 60% to 50% in the last year. This led to a group of lamb farmers refusing to sell their prime lambs between the 1-7 August while some protested at supermarkets.
#NoLambWeek campaigners believed it brought the discussion into the open. “It was more a statement than a protest but it got the general public to realise how bad the situation is. Some farmers are struggling so much that they couldn’t actually afford not to sell their lambs during the week.
“We believe that supermarkets should bring the prices down to reflect the prices being paid to farmers.”
The campaign resulted in throughputs being down by 2% on the previous week as well as generating mainstream awareness of the issue.
It received plenty of support online from the industry however some independent butchers in the area were concerned that it would disrupt supply to their shops. #NoLambWeek campaigners apologised for the inconvenience but said “this is what we’re dealing with every day of the year”.
“It’s unlikely that lamb prices will rise again until spring so we’re stuck in this situation until next year. We do understand that the boycott did affect some butchers who stock and support British meat but supermarkets are screwing farmers and conning the public with their pricing when they should be doing more to promote it as an everyday option. That’s the way the lamb market will succeed. Local lamb is world famous but instead supermarkets are profiteering from cheaper meat from New Zealand and crippling British farmers.”
He added that if the practice continues, the lamb market might be damaged beyond repair. “Lamb consumption is down globally and work needs to be done to make it a viable option for consumers. Farmers and supermarkets should be working together to strengthen the lamb industry.”
The farmer also refused to rule out another #NoLambWeek boycott in the future should the disparity in prices continue.
“The last #NoLambWeek caused prices to increase but they’ve fallen back down again. We don’t have one planned but never say never. I’m not going to let my business die without a fight and neither will other farmers. We have to protect our businesses.”