MSP receives assurances over Scottish lamb in supermarkets

Stewart Stevenson MSP says he is looking forward to taking Tesco up on its invitation to meet with the select group of farmers
Stewart Stevenson MSP says he is looking forward to taking Tesco up on its invitation to meet with the select group of farmers

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has received assurances from two leading supermarkets it will continue to support the Scottish farming industry.

The move was in response to letters from the MSP after recent findings by the National Farmers Union in Scotland (NFUS) had noted low stocks of Scottish lamb in both Asda and Tesco supermarkets.

A report by the NFUS found almost all of the imported meat found among the main supermarket chains was on Asda and Tesco shelves.

The percentage was in stark contrast to a previous study conducted the same time last year which found only 3% of fresh lamb on Scottish supermarket shelves was imported at the time.

Mr Stevenson called for more support to be made for Scottish farmers in the wake of the findings.

Now, both Tesco and Asda have said they will do all they can to increase stocks and also work with farmers to understand further improvements can be made.

Tesco’s Head of Devolved Government Affairs Tony McElroy said:“We were disappointed to see the NFUS press release as we have increased our volume of British lamb over the last 12 months and we do not recognise the findings of the recent Shelf Watch Survey.

“Please be reassured that we are actively working with a small group of Scottish farmers through our Tesco Sustainable Farming Group on Lamb.

“This group are contracted on a cost of production model and the contract length is for 12 months allowing producers to manage cash flow and understand their actual cost of production for lamb.

“We are supporting farmers at a farm level to improve productivity and efficiencies through Technical Workshops via independent consultants.”

Meanwhile Asda said it was a “long-term supporter” of the Scottish red meat sector and had worked hard with suppliers to grow the sector and provide choice to customers.

It said it now planned to increase the volume of lamb sold, including Scotch lamb.

Christopher Brown, Asda’s senior director of Sustainable Business, said: “Our lamb supplier, Dunbia, has increased the amount of lamb it sources from Scotland, with a rise in volume of over 20% in the past 12 months.

“The National Farmers' Union Scotland report highlighted that we were stocking Australian lamb. This is a small quantity of lamb liver and this supply is being ceased.”

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said: “It is disappointing that despite the results of the NFUS findings, Tesco has chosen to dismiss the results.

“We must support Scottish farmers and work carried out by the NFUS attempts to highlight the disparities on the level of imports on our supermarket shelves.

“The study was carried out by the NFUS across 46 supermarket stores so this cannot simply be a blip in their recordings.

“The success of farmers relies on the support of retailers to ensure the success of the industry.

“My constituency in particular is one of the key livestock-producing areas and needs the backing of supermarkets like Asda and Tesco in order to continue.

“I look forward to taking Tesco up on its invitation to meet with the select group of farmers it works with to find out more about the work they are doing.”