NZ lamb bosses confident

New Zealand Lamb bosses are optimistic there will not be a repeat of last year's battles with UK producers as the season gets underway.

John Mabb, UK market manager for Meat & Wool New Zealand, said he was confident it was going to be a better year.

He said there were a number of factors pointing the way, from the fact the UK hangover of lamb, in the wake of FMD, was smaller than people had expected, and the fact that prices were looking good for British product.

However, he admitted there were no guarantees it would all be plain sailing: "New Zealand Lamb make up in excess of a third of the UK retail market for lamb. There's always going to be some friction.

"However, our chairman says there's room for everybody and we all have common interests in making sure that the returns are good for all our farmers, whether in the UK or New Zealand."

He said last year's goodwill trips by Meat & Wool NZ chairman Mike Petersen played a big part in smoothing over the rows and communication was now much better between NZ and the UK.

This year, Meat & Wool NZ are investing £800,000 on promoting lamb in the UK market with a heavyweight press and PR campaign to run from February to July.

This year's campaign will focus on provenance said Mabb: "We'll be pointing out that the perfect ingredient for New Zealand lamb is New Zealand itself."