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UK says New Zealand Lamb rosette a 'valuable asset'

New Zealand farmers have a great asset in the New Zealand Lamb rosette, says the visiting chairman of the UK's Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC), but warned that it could be easily knocked from its pedestal.

MLC chairman Peter Barr said: "The New Zealand Lamb brand is the strongest meat brand in the EU, it is certainly by far the strongest in the UK. New Zealand Lamb has a 30 percent market share in the UK, but I think there is the danger of farmers here taking the market for granted."

Barr said that New Zealand Lamb has over 80 percent recognition among UK shoppers, due in large part to levy funded promotion that has cost New Zealand farmers very little. "The levy here is the cost of a postage stamp, by comparison our farmers pay airmail or courier prices."

Farmers in the UK pay about three and a half times the levy as those in New Zealand, Barr said. Around 50 percent of their levy is voluntary, which farmers voted in favour of paying after the devastating foot and mouth outbreak in the UK.

Supermarkets such as Sainsbury and Tesco's often used 'own branding' on the products they sell, however they still use the New Zealand rosette, Barr said. "If the New Zealand Lamb rosette was allowed to go, and was replaced with just an 'NZ' in the corner, it could just as easily be a 'US'."

The New Zealand rosette is mainly used by processors, exporters, distributors and retailers on packaging to identify New Zealand Lamb through to the point of sale.

"Our research shows us consumers spend about 30 seconds in front of the freezer before making a buying decision. The New Zealand Lamb rosette is recognisable, and recognised as representing a good quality product," Barr said.

New Zealand and UK lamb producers work together to ensure a year-round demand for lamb in the UK market, Barr said. "If fresh lamb were only available part of the year, demand for it would have to be built up again seasonally which would be very expensive. That is why we work collaboratively with New Zealand Lamb producers to ensure constant supply to the market."

Meat New Zealand market services general manager Bill Joyce said the UK remains the primary lamb market for 2004, with the New Zealand lamb rosette continuing to underline New Zealand Lamb sales there.

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