Two retailers have this week come under fire for ‘misleading’ customers over their use of British meat in their products.
Morrisons was slammed for its failure to adhere to its 100 per cent British lamb policy when sourcing its own products, while Waitrose was once again attacked on social media for its use of New Zealand lamb in its British-branded ready meals.
The NFU called on Morrisons to provide some clarity on its sourcing policy, after a promotion in the supermarket branded Australian and NZ lamb legs as ‘market deals’ under the Morrisons own-label brand.
The union said its lack of British sourcing under the British lamb label was breaking its ‘high profile’ commitment to shoppers.
Let's test this. Describing a meat dish as 'British lamb' but making it from New Zealand lamb is...— Herdwick Shepherd (@herdyshepherd1)
Let's test this. Describing a meat dish as 'British lamb' but making it from New Zealand lamb is...— Herdwick Shepherd (@herdyshepherd1) February 12, 2017
We think @waitrose should...— Herdwick Shepherd (@herdyshepherd1)
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Morrisons has traditionally been a strong backer of the British livestock industry and much of its messaging to shoppers is centred around being 100 per cent British on all fresh meat.
“We appreciate Morrisons purchases about 750,000 lambs every year, but in our view, it is a real shame the retailer is now acting contrary to its commitments to consumers.
“We also have concerns these imported products are being placed near British messaging at the point of sale, potentially leaving shoppers confused about the origin of the product they are purchasing.”
A Morrisons spokesman said: “As has always been the case, all year round and in all stores, 100 per cent of Morrisons branded fresh lamb is British.
“As we have in previous years, we will run a handful of non-Morrisons branded promotions between Christmas and Easter when we sell a small amount of non-British lamb.
“This is because a large volume of one cut (the leg) is being sold out of balance to the rest of the carcass. Again, the country of origin is very clearly labelled and the product is sold away from the counter.”
John Gregson, senior manager for agri-food communications at Waitrose, said the retailer had promised to rebrand its British-branded meals to ‘classic’ and challenged its supplier to use more British lamb.
But after a response to say the term ‘British’ was to denote the origin of the recipe, NFU director general Terry Jones said he did not ‘buy the explanation one bit’.
Other farmers hit back at the supermarket and called for it to ‘ditch its reliance’ on NZ lamb, after calling it a ‘cheap trick’, ‘misleading’ and ‘disgraceful’.