The UK is the Largest Sheep-Producing Member of the EU
1. “The UK is the largest sheep-producing member of the EU and lamb has been a favourite dish for British families since time began.” But “things are changing: our annual consumption has fallen from 11 kg per head in the 1960s to only 6 kg in 2008. Across the EU, production fell by a staggering 7% in 2008 alone. In New Zealand too production is down and in Australia it is the lowest since 1920.” So begins a global outlook on some questions asked at the first ever International Sheep Meat Forum held in Brussels.” In short, Liz Murphy, Director of the International Meat Trade Association, said: “Farmers everywhere have found sheep production hard going and when alternatives are possible they convert to something more profitable.”
2. The Forum also considered the “public service” aspects of sheep farming. In the EU and many countries around the world there are vast stretches of land, which can only be maintained by sheep. Certainly, “our lovely countryside would be far sadder without them.” But governments are reluctant to fund this part of a sheep’s job. Yet when you look at the retail prices, lamb looks dear compared with other meats. “Lamb is a wonderful and healthy meat, rich in iron and zinc, but many cannot afford this healthier option.”
3. “Although the industry might think about the importance of the origin of the lamb, when it is in the cabinet, the consumer looks at the price,” says Liz Murphy. Consumers “might notice the origin, but this would not be the critical purchase factor,” she says. Shame!