The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has met with representatives from Asda and the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium to discuss their lamb procurement policy.

Over the last 12 months, the UFU has been carefully monitoring the availability of local lamb on retail shelves across Northern Ireland and while some retailers have performed well in terms of showing their support for local lamb by sourcing only British or Irish lamb, others continued to sell both New Zealand and Australian lamb at times when the local prime lamb season was at its peak and local lamb was widely available.

UFU Deputy President Ivor Ferguson said the meeting was both “positive and constructive”.

“Having met with Asda we are pleased to see that they have responded to the calls made by both the UFU and our farming union colleagues in the rest of the UK to source more of their lamb locally.

“There is a strong desire from consumers for retailers to supply products which have a short supply chain and can deliver a high quality, fully traceable product. Local farmers are ideally suited to deliver on this all year round. However, they must get a fair price, something that is not reflected in the market at present.”

He also said that they discussed lamb promotions and that there was an obligation for both retailers and industry to try and increase the consumption of lamb. “Overall, it was an encouraging meeting; however, we will continue to monitor supermarket shelves to ensure they are delivering on their promises to source local beef and lamb.”