With the new lamb season about to commence, IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman James Murphy said the latest consumption figures for lamb in Ireland are very positive, with the Kantar Worldpanel data showing an increase for 2012.
“For the 12-week period ending March 20th household purchases of lamb totalled 2,257 tonnes, representing a 15.7% increase on 2011.” James Murphy said this good news comes on top of positive figures for all of last year, which shows a 4% growth in lamb consumption for the 52 weeks to March 20.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said some of the key growth factors in the Irish market are strong promotional activity of lamb by all of the major Irish retailers; a quality product; constant product innovation; and a vigorous campaign by Bord Bia, including TV and in-store activity. He said the Irish figures are in contrast to some other European markets where lamb consumption has come under pressure.
James Murphy said the very high quality of lamb and its unique natural meat image, together with the positive work of celebrity chefs, has contributed significantly to increasing consumer awareness of the value, quality and convenience of lamb.
He pointed out that the average retail price of lamb has increased by only 2.8% over the last 12 months to €10.58/kg. He said at farm level, lamb prices have increased by 8% in the same period. A very strong trade in lamb skins and offal has helped to prevent the full farm gate price rise being passed back to consumers.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said to drive growth and continue to rebuild confidence at farm level, it is very important that lamb prices to farmers are maintained at 2011 levels. He said factory pressure on prices in the last week were excessive and negative. “Strong lamb prices are the key to re-growing the sector at farm level and achieving the growth target set out for the sector in the Food Harvest 2020 Plan.”