Lamb campaign boost for W Midlands

A campaign to support sheep farmers in the West Midlands by boosting demand for English lamb has been running throughout the region.

The project, launched by EBLEX, and aided by a £51,000 investment by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands - has been raising awareness in all West Midland counties for the last two-and-a-half weeks.

Part of EBLEX's £1.1 million nationwide programme, the project has set out to deliver a mass-market message, reaching as many consumers as possible in a concentrated period up to Christmas.

Aimed at stimulating consumer demand for quality domestic lamb in the wake of foot-and-mouth disease and blue tongue in southern England, the campaign has aimed to help improve market returns for the region's sheep farms.

Disease restrictions imposed on the whole livestock sector have come at a time when English lamb is at its best.

The export ban has also led to a surplus in the domestic lamb market because, normally, around 30% would be sent overseas at this time of year. This has caused a fall in the prices farmers can expect to achieve.

Advantage West Midlands' £51,000 investment in the regional campaign has paid for media adverts, recipe booklets and mobile advertising on major roads, shopping centres and towns.

The aim is to make consumers in the region more aware of Quality Standard Mark English Lamb.

Mark Pearce, corporate director for economic regeneration at Advantage West Midlands, said: "We're delighted to be able to support the region's agricultural sector, in this instance sheep farmers in the West Midlands, at a particularly testing time for agriculture generally. It is great to be able to work with English Beef and Lamb, and the whole of the supply chain, to make consumers know more about a great product that's produced right here in our region."

Clive Brown, western regional manager for EBLEX, said: "Our national advertising campaign is currently promoting quality standard lamb and pointing out to consumers the great taste and value of lamb, particularly at this time of year. We're absolutely delighted to be able to work with Advantage West Midlands to emphasise the importance to the rural economy in this area."

EBLEX's Quality Standard Mark for Beef and Lamb was developed to recognise that the key requirements for meat are the tenderness of the joint and the succulence. The Quality Standard Mark ensures that farms are accredited and also ensures supply chain standards are met and the meat is of a specific quality.

EBLEX began a renewed promotional push for Autumn Lamb in September, backed by celebrity chef Oliver Rowe from BBC2's Urban Chef series.