Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Tesco under fire for offloading spring lamb at 'unsustainably' low prices

Roast Leg of Lamb
Roast Leg of Lamb
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Tesco has come under fire from farmers for in their view undermining premium spring lamb producers by offloading spring lamb at 'unsustainably' low prices in shops. 

Irish Cattle and Sheep Association sheep chairman John Brooks said Tesco is currently selling leg of spring lamb at what he described as a ‘ridiculously low price’ of €8.69/kg.

“This can only be described as below cost selling,” he said and added that the move will have the effect of “putting farmers out of business”.

ICSA is calling for this practice to stop immediately. Brooks says farmers need at least €7/kg for high cost early spring lamb systems and allowing for processing costs, it is clear that a retail price of €8.69/kg is unsustainable.

“Meanwhile, retailers seem to have no problem getting €33/kg for farmed salmon,” he said.

“Spring lamb has to be marketed as a premium product. This puts it way below the cost of most steak cuts and much closer to mince price.”   

Brooks says Tesco needs to understand that early lamb production is a complex and high cost system.

“Spring lamb producers excelled as usual. They carefully planned lambing dates /sale dates, cared for their flock pre and post lambing at a time of year when you have long winter nights and feed costs are at a maximum in order to have a premium product ready for Easter and early summer.

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“It's now the time of year when early spring lamb producers are calculating their losses from their enterprise.

“After all this work the industry cheats us by paying a bad price and introducing spurious weight limits,” he said.

“Early spring lamb producers need a minimum of €7/kg and a realistic weight limit of 22kg in order to leave farmers with a small profit margin.”

Brooks claims that this year the industry colluded to ensure the price barely exceeded €6/kg and the meat industry imposed a spurious weight limit as low as 20kg.

Commenting on the ICSA claims a spokesperson for Tesco Ireland said the promotion was planned as part of our nationwide introduction of Spring Lamb and was fully funded by Tesco and added that the promotion is short term and runs for 10 days from May 14-23.

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