Farmers have called on supermarkets to support the British sheep industry over the Easter period, with discounted New Zealand supplies appearing on shelves.
Livestock Auctioneers Association executive secretary Chris Dodds said Easter was not as important to farms as it used to be and this was not helped by retailers stocking NZ joints.
And with lamb costing more to produce for the Easter market, he added fewer farmers were producing it, although more would if the demand was there.
Mr Dodds said: “When we know all they are going to do is pre-purchase NZ legs, there is never going to be an awful lot more.”
Buitelaar calf buyer and beef and sheep farmer Liz Hoggarth complained to Waitrose on Twitter after the retailer told her it had a ‘best in season policy’ which included NZ lamb.
She said the supermarket’s attitude was ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and British lamb was ‘always in season’.
Ms Hoggarth said: “It infuriates me they seem to think it is okay to sell high air mile lamb while British farmers are working hard to reduce emissions.”
The National Sheep Association (NSA) said it was not currently hearing concerns over the placing of British lamb on retailers’ shelves this year, but was aware there was a lot of shelf space.
Phil Stocker said domestic prices had been rising over the last few weeks, reflecting steady demand.
But NSA was adamant retailers should not be price-promoting NZ over British and should not use it as a ‘loss leader’.
It came as Iceland launched its Easter lamb television campaign, advertising NZ legs at a heavily reduced price.
Mr Stocker said: “Both these approaches put British farmers at a disadvantage and risk dragging farmgate prices down to unviable levels.”