Backing British lamb farmers for a sustainable future

Matt Simister

Commercial Director, Fresh Food and Commodities
Welwyn Garden City, UK

24 Mar 2016

We’re taking an industry-leading step to support our British lamb farmers with the trial of a cost of production model with 100 producers.

Easter is a brilliant time to enjoy lamb with the family, but it is also something that should be enjoyed all year round. Lamb farming has been an important part of Britain’s heritage for generations and at Tesco we want to see that this continues for years to come.

We are proud of our long heritage working with British agriculture and know that collaboration right across the supply chain is key to its success. But in recent years the lamb industry has faced real volatility and uncertainty, as it’s tried to compete in a highly competitive global market. Through the Tesco Sustainable Lamb Group (TSLG), we have been able to bring together farmers, processors and industry experts, to share with them what’s important to our customers and to understand their concerns.

Which is why we are proud to be taking this industry-leading step to support our British farmers with the trial of a cost of production model with 100 producers.  Although it has been an important part of the way Tesco has worked with the dairy industry over a number of years, this production style contract is a brand new approach for lamb farmers-and something never attempted before by a major retailer.

So we’ve had to start from scratch, and by running a trial over a 12 month period, we are hopeful that we will be able to gather enough clear and accurate data to test the feasibility of rolling out a cost of production model contract with all our British lamb farmers. If successful it could provide the security and financial reassurance that many of our farmers are looking for; helping them to budget, plan and innovate, which is one of the key ways to ensure that we have a strong lamb industry in the future.

Whilst this might sound very procedural and removed from the day-to-day world of farming, I was told only recently by one of our farmers that having the confidence and certainty of his cash flow is second only to having sheep dogs in lamb farming. Grasping the issue can really mean that in the long term, we could see greater efficiencies and improved quality  fresh lamb in our stores, which I hope will encourage more of our customers to savour the taste of British lamb, much more frequently. This will help us build a more sustainable future for our farmers, because we believe that lamb isn’t just for Easter.

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