Consumers urged to back ‘Wham Bam Thank You Lamb!’

As Scotland’s annual lamb marketing campaign gathers pace, NFU Scotland is urging consumers to get behind Scotland’s sheep farmers and put some fresh, tasty Scotch lamb on their plates.

This is a crucial period for the Scottish sheep industry. Sales of prime lambs are approaching their peak but a combination of factors, including the strength of sterling hitting exports, means that market prices for lambs are currently at a six year low.

It is also the time of year when Scotland’s hill farmers start selling their lamb crop to other farmers, moving them to better pasture to get them ready for the market. Early store sales of hill lambs, including 13,000 lambs sold at Lairg this week, have seen most prices fall by £3 to £4 per head – eating into the main source of income for Scotland’s hill farmers and crofters.

By way of boosting sales of Scotch lamb, farmers are fully behind Quality Meat Scotland’s high-impact advertising campaign ‘Wham, Bam Thank You Lamb’ campaign, which is targeting 3.7 million consumers. The two-month long 2015 Scotch Lamb PGI campaign – set to reach more than 90 percent of Scottish adults – is building on last year’s very successful run which boosted sales of lamb in Scotland by 11 percent.

Farmers themselves will be acting as ‘lambassadors’, and supporting the activities planned around the ‘Love Scotch Lamb Weekend’ on 5 and 6 September. The Union is keen to see the campaign drive consumption, a longer lasting commitment from retailers to Scotch lamb and better returns back to farmers, crofters and finishers.

With incomes under pressure, the Union would also remind hill farmers and crofters that the new coupled support scheme for home-bred ewe hoggs on eligible farms and crofts will open very soon to applications.

The new Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) – worth 8 million Euros – will be open from 1 September to 16 October and will provide direct support to help maintain sheep flocks in some of Scotland’s most remote hills and uplands.

Getting behind Scottish sheep farmers, NFUS President Allan Bowie said: “A combination of difficult export markets, wet weather and poor prices means that 2015 could be a year that Scotland’s sheep farmers want to forget – but if Scottish and UK consumers get behind the ‘Wham Bam Thank You Lamb’ campaign, and put more Scotch lamb on their plates, then we can still make this a year to remember.

“Consumer support, backed up by a genuine effort from our supermarkets, butchers and restaurants to promote and market tasty Scotch lamb worked a treat in 2014 and we would want to see the 2015 campaign be every bit as successful.

“Knowing that we have a fantastic story to tell on the taste and quality of Scotch lamb, the finest in the world, Scottish sheep producers will be out and about in their droves during the ‘Love Scotch Lamb Weekend’ in early September.

“However, we are adamant that retailer commitment to Scotch lamb must – at best – be year round and – at worst – extend further into 2016 than ever before. Those hill lambs currently passing through the store sales and heading to lusher pastures in other parts of the country will be ready to fill our plates in late winter and early spring, long after the current campaign has passed and a time of year when many retailers turn to imports. We have already started a discussion with all major retailers on why extending the season for Scotch is wholly justified and will make a lasting difference.

“Sheep farming is a cornerstone of Scottish agriculture and we are fully committed to ensuring those who are working tirelessly to produce the best lamb possible – in often challenging circumstances – can see a future in keeping their sheep stocks. For those most vulnerable, the new Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme opens shortly and will provide vital funds to help keep sheep in Scotland’s hills.”

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