M&S pledge to lamb farmers

Marks & Spencer has announced a series of measures to increase its support for UK lamb farmers.

The retailer is rolling out a 'Lamb Pledge' to more farmers across the UK, guaranteeing a market leading price for the whole UK season, extending the lamb season in-store and increasing the number of British lamb products on sale.

M&S said the measures were designed to stimulate further demand for British lamb in its stores and offer its dedicated producers financial security. This comes in the wake of uncertainty for many farmers due to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and bluetongue.

Following a trial in Wales earlier this year, M&S is extending its 'Lamb Pledge' to dedicated M&S farmers in England, Scotland and Ireland, who are part of the M&S select breeding programme.

As part of the pledge, M&S will pay its farmers £2.40 per kg. The price is guaranteed for the whole UK season, providing farmers with greater financial security against market and seasonal fluctuations in price. The retailer is also giving its lamb producers an opportunity to earn up to an additional 35p per kg by recognising individuals performance on animal welfare and protecting the environment.

Rob Cumine, agriculture manager for M&S, said: "Paying a fair price for our meat has always been our policy. Rolling out the pledge with its guaranteed price gives lamb farmers the security to plan their business with more assurance and stability. We are rolling out our Lamb Pledge initially to farmers involved in our lamb breeding programme, with the aim of extending it to all our UK lamb farmers within two years."

M&S is also extending the UK lamb season so that home produced lamb will be available in selected stores for a further two months of the year during January and February. In addition organic UK lamb will be available in stores 12 months of the year.

Within its recently extended and improved fresh meat offer M&S will also sell an additional seven UK lamb products, including dry-aged slow roast lamb shoulder and lamb noisettes with apricot and thyme stuffing, as part of its speciality butchery range.

Thomas Binns, NFU livestock chairman, said: "M&S clearly value their relationship with farmers and the important role that they play in the supply of quality British lamb to their customers. Their extended commitment to use more home-grown lamb in January and February demonstrates what can be achieved by the supply chain working together. This is a good example of responsible retailing and will inject a measure of renewed confidence to farmers at this difficult time."