Public rate sustainable UK lamb over New Zealand options

22 October, 21

A UK-NZ trade deal might pave the way for more NZ Lamb on our shelves, but given the choice, more than four-fifths of English and Welsh meat eaters would choose sustainable homegrown options over NZ lamb if it was the same price.

The independent study carried out for Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), the body representing the Welsh Red Meat Industry, found that consumers were clear on the distinctions between UK meat and meat reared and shipped from other countries that Britain is looking to strike trade deals with.

Respondents felt that the sustainable and low-intensity nature of British lamb was important, with two-thirds (67%) aware that British lambs were able to roam freely. The high-welfare nature of British lamb was also important for buyers, with over half (53%) stating that it was a priority for them. Over a third (36%) said they would even pay more for lamb that is higher welfare, tastier and more sustainable.

Gwyn Howells, Chief Executive, Hybu Cig Cymru Said: ‘‘It’s clear that buying British beef and lamb means supporting world-leading sustainable farming. These figures show that British consumers want to eat sustainable red meat as part of a healthy diet, and we want to encourage more people to eat red meat that is produced this way. If more people globally eat meat produced sustainably and ethically, we think that is a good thing.

‘’The global climate crisis we face is urgent and intensive farming systems are undoubtedly part of the problem. However, the answer is not to stop eating red meat, but to produce and eat it more sustainably and ethically.

‘’The announcement of a provisional trade deal with New Zealand raises many questions / opportunities for British farmers and food producers, and we will need to look at the detail of this. But it is key that any trade deal ensures a level playing field and does not prioritise price over sustainability.’’

Glyn Roberts, President, Farmers Union of Wales said: “New Zealand has a smaller population than Scotland, so the benefits for the UK of this deal are microscopic – but the damage that could be caused to our farming industry and food security is massive. The gas price crisis shows how dangerous it is to become over-reliant on foreign production of any commodity, and food is the most important commodity there is, so it is extremely concerning to see the UK Government undermining UK food production in this way and potentially increasing the UK’s reliance on food produced 11,000 miles away just days before the COP26 climate change conference.”

John Davies, President, NFU Cymru, said: “I view this latest announcement with great apprehension for future generations, and as further confirmation of the UK Government’s agenda of liberalising trade with some of the world’s largest agri-food exporters, an agenda which has the potential to seriously threaten Welsh farming in return for no tangible benefits that we can see. With this announcement, the UK Government’s direction of travel is abundantly clear. It leaves me particularly worried about the cumulative impacts successive trade deals will have on Wales’ farmers, as slowly but surely the floodgates are thrown open to imports from all over the world.’’

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