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Lamb leads the way in the US

In a co-operative move with competing countries, Meat New Zealand Chairman, Jeff Grant met recently in Washington with leaders of the Australian, New Zealand and US lamb-producing industries to strengthen the lamb market in the US.

The Lamb Forum held on September 25, was organised to bring the three countries together to work on producing mutual trading benefits, and enhance the profitability and sustainability of the lamb market in the US.

Representatives from all three countries exchanged information on promotions such as the highly successful New Zealand, Red Meat Feel Good campaign, market access, research and development and social compliance issues.

All parties agreed that there was a common interest in development of the US market for lamb and a willingness to progress the market. The parties have agreed to work together to improve demand for lamb in the United States, to stop the decline in per capita consumption and maintain the current high value of lamb in the United States market.

Meat New Zealand chairman, Jeff Grant says the meeting has been very worthwhile.

"Overall it is in everybody's interests for lamb consumption to increase in the US."

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairman, Ian Corney, also at the meeting, said he was pleased to hear at first hand the problems that affected the US industry and to discuss with Australian and US producers potential areas of cooperation. "This can only be of benefit to New Zealand sheep farmers and a step forward in improving the understanding between the participants concerned", he said.

Representatives drafted a MOU (memorandum of understanding) to be finalised and approved at a later date.

Grant said that the US industry has had a declining flock for the past few years and imports into the US from New Zealand and Australia continue to grow, although Australian exports have been affected by the recent drought. The US industry has recently raised over $2 million through a domestic lamb check-off and is looking to use these funds to promote lamb consumption.

At this stage all parties agreed to meet again in Australia in late 2004 to continue building this valuable relationship.

"If we can raise the overall level of awareness while still allowing each country to continue to promote the uniqueness of their lamb products then I think we have a solution that is cost effective and benefits everybody", says Grant.

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