11 Oct 2016

Marks & Spencer Scotland pulls pin on NZ lamb

2:59 pm on 11 October 2016

British retailer Marks & Spencer will no longer stock New Zealand lamb in its Scottish stores, after a decision to only sell locally-produced lamb.

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Photo: 123RF

New Zealand exports about 29,000 lambs a year to Marks & Spencer in Scotland and the decision will hit about 10 or 12 lamb producers in this country.

Beef and Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons is in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to assess what effect Brexit may have on New Zealand exports.

He was at the Marks & Spencer announcement and said Scottish farmers have been pushing the supermarket to support local for some time.

The decision could leave Scottish consumers with older meat, Mr Parsons said.

"From our perspective it's disappointing, and not just from a parochial perspective either - in my view this is actually bad for the lamb category, because the way things are structured currently we have New Zealand lamb basically going up to the UK in their off season when they don't produce product.

"For them to supply for 12 months of the year [means] you'll have a lot of old season lamb at their end to maintain that, and I don't think that's a great experience for the consumers."

Marks & Spencer only imported small volumes from New Zealand, he said.

"About 29,000 lambs is the figure I've been told.

"To put it in context, we're talking about 10 or 12 New Zealand farms and of that, only about half of the carcass - they don't use the whole carcass at Marks & Spencer stores."

Other supermarkets could pick up the market share and business if consumers were not getting what they wanted from Marks & Spencer, Mr Parsons said.