New Zealand beef and lamb’s James Parsons said New Zealand and the UK can ’team up’ to supply lamb all year round
New Zealand and the UK can ’team up’ in future to provide lamb all year round according to James Parsons, chairman of New Zealand beef and lamb.
Speaking at the Farm Stock Lamb Supply Chain Conference he said the seasonality of lamb could provide opportunities for both New Zealand and British lamb in each other’s off season.
"You struggle to find enough lamb at both Christmas and Easter in the UK," he said.
"Opportunities are not in producing lamb all year round. The future is the Northern and Southern hemisphere’s teaming up."
However, Marks and Spencer Head of Agriculture & Fisheries Sourcing, Steve McLean, announced at the conference it would now be stocking 100 per cent Scottish lamb in all of its Scottish stores all year round.
Previously it had sourced lambs from Scotland for part of the year and from New Zealand for the remainder of the season.
However, he did acknowledge it would be difficult to get Scottish lamb in May and June.
"But perhaps this is where the opportunity is for farmers to provide it," Mr McLean said.
New Zealand exports about 90 per cent of its sheep meat and supplies around 16 per cent of the lamb which is imported into the EU.
A farmer at the conference had asked Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Environment and Connectivity, about the prospect of adding tariffs to New Zealand lamb to help Scottish lamb compete.
But Mr Parsons warned about the potential consequences of putting tariffs up against New Zealand lamb post-Brexit if UK farmers want to keep exporting.
"How can you argue for protectionism and want access elsewhere? You cannot have your cake and eat it too."
Dr Jonathan Birnie, head of agriculture and research for Dunbia, highlighted ways British farmers could learn from New Zealand to become more efficient.
"In the UK farmers will have a couple of tractors, but in New Zealand many farms just have one small machine," he said.
"We could also learn from New Zealand to utilise grass better. If you do not know much about using grass, then go and find out."