NFU Scotland has welcomed a speedy response by major retailer Marks and Spencer that will see 100 per cent Scottish lamb returning to the shelves of its Scottish stores by the weekend.
The retailer was responding to an NFU Scotland shelf watch campaign which found significant volumes of imported lamb on almost all supermarket shelves as we approach Easter, giving people few opportunities to buy Scottish lamb.
Last year, Marks and Spencer’s made a commitment to source 100 per cent Scottish lamb for its Scottish stores this season. However, NFUS secret shoppers found the retailer had a significant amount of imported lamb on some of its shelves this week.
A statement from the retailer has apologised, indicated that an error in its delivery system was responsible, pledged to have it rectified over the weekend and reaffirmed its commitment to sourcing only Scottish lamb for its Scottish stores.
The Union is keen to see all supermarkets now make a similar pledge. In its shelf watch this week, only Aldi stores were found to be stocking 100 per cent Scottish lamb.
Despite previous commitments by some retailers, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op, Morrisons and Lidl have all chosen to import huge volumes of New Zealand and Australian lamb, shunning home producers at this hugely important time of year for lamb sales.
Commenting on the M and S statement, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “I welcome this speedy response and action taken by M and S. Having a leading retailer delivering on its commitment to stock exclusively Scottish lamb in its Scottish stores is great news at a time when Scottish farmers and crofters are coming through the difficult spring lambing period.
“Easter weekend marks one of the few times in the year when families are guaranteed to get around the dinner table to enjoy a hearty meal, with many choosing lamb as the traditional roast. Sadly, the Union’s shelf watch indicated that shoppers have to look hard in stores to find any Scottish. Justifiably, many will rely on their local butcher if they want to buy some fresh, tasty and local Scottish lamb.
“Scottish shoppers want Scottish lamb and butchers, Aldi and M and S show other retailers what can be achieved.
“Looking ahead, we welcome plans from the Co-op to move to 100 per cent home-produced across all fresh meat later this year. And we continue to call for Tesco and Asda to extend their season for buying home produced lamb in a bid to boost sales of Scottish. And we will also be asking questions of Morrisons and Lidl, who have failed to maintain their previous good record on domestic sourcing.”