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Organic lamb producers left with a hard sell

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The marketing power of restaurants should be exploited

The marketing power of restaurants should be exploited

The marketing power of restaurants should be exploited

With the lambing season in full swing farmers should be pleased with strong prices as factories are paying €6/kg - and more - in order to secure supply in a tightening market.

That said, lamb continues to be a hard sell to consumers, and despite the excellent Bord Bia marketing campaign people are simply not eating lamb in large quantities.

It continues to be perceived as an 'occasion meat'. Organic lamb commands a premium, making it a more difficult sell to retailers and consumers.

ICM in Camolin, Co Wexford, process the majority of Irish organic lamb, and Gerry McNally pointed out that export markets remain the most important outlet for produce.

"All organic lamb procured for and produced at ICM is for the export market. There is limited demand in the export market but little or no demand on the domestic market," Gerry explained.

Carcase

"None of the main Irish retailers are currently marketing organic lamb. The bulk of organic lamb sold by ICM is sold in carcass format rather than primal or retail-ready ranges.

There is work to be done to increase the profile of organic lamb and to further educate consumers, to create a better demand for this product," he added.

The seasonality of lamb is of course an issue, as retailers always look at a 52-week market.

However, the counter argument is that consumers should be better educated to embrace the idea of seasonal food.

Clearly work needs to be done to make organic lamb more available at retail level.

The marketing power of restaurants must also be embraced and exploited by producers selling organic lamb.

While farmers continue to produce high quality lamb, markets must be found to meet that supply.There are also opportunities in direct sales (see panels right) and in the retail markets both in Ireland and further afield.

Grace Maher is development officer with the IOFGA, www.iofga.org

grace.maher @iofga.org

Indo Farming