Plans for the British supermarket Waitrose to phase out the importation of New Zealand lamb are disappointing but do not spell trouble for the sector, the meat industry says.
Having previously sourced lamb from New Zealand during the UK's winter months, Waitrose announced this week it will aim to complete the move to 100 percent British lamb in 2021.
A Waitrose spokesperson, Tor Harris, said it showed the company's commitment to British farmers and to the future of agriculture inside Britain.
"Although we are already in a great position, we are constantly looking at ways to innovate our product and are actively looking to partner with new lamb producers around Britain to ensure we continue to offer great tasting, high quality lamb all year round."
Tim Ritchie of the New Zealand Meat Industry Association said the decision by Waitrose ended what had been a 40-year relationship with farmers here, and was disappointing.
But he said it would not have significant implications as the supermarket only accounted for a small amount of New Zealand lamb imports into the UK.
Mr Ritchie said demand overseas for New Zealand meat remained strong and that was reflected in high prices being paid to sheep farmers.