Many people are about 20 years behind the times when it comes to buying British lamb because they still think it is a seasonal product that isn’t available between Christmas and Easter.
But, top quality home-grown lamb is available at livestock auction markets in England, Wales and Scotland throughout the year these days, says veteran livestock auctioneer John Brereton, who can be regularly seen operating at Oswestry Livestock Auction Market in Shropshire and St Asaph Livestock Auction Market in Denbighshire, Wales.
Mr Brereton, who has been in the business for the past 40 years, explained that in today’s modern production systems “professional” producers bought store lambs and finished them specially for livestock auction markets throughout the year, including the former “closed period” between January and April.
Admitting that auction markets used to sell “left-overs” after Christmas when he first started working as an auctioneer, Mr Brereton said: “Times have changed. Buyers can now get top-quality British lamb from a network of livestock auction markets across England, Wales and Scotland at any time of the year – and if supermarket buyers go to the marts, they will be able to source exactly what they need – small, medium or large.
Mr Brereton added: “There is no need for anybody to import lamb to fill a gap in production here anymore. Our producers have the expertise to ensure there is always the best quality product available for the home market.”
He was supported by Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) executive secretary Chris Dodds, who pointed out that British producers were presenting lambs that “are as good as anywhere else in the world all year round” every month of the year.
Suggesting that supermarkets should send their buyers to the local livestock auction markets if they wanted to ensure they purchased the best meat for their customers, Mr Dodds said: “The idea that our lamb is not good enough is misguided, to say the least. We produce the best in the world and the export figures reflect that – some 36% of our production is exported to premium markets every year.”