Tesco is offering 40% off a half leg of Irish lamb this week, advertising prices which Brooks has described as “unsustainable”.

“Tesco is currently selling leg of spring lamb at a ridiculously low price of €8.69/kg. This can only be described as below-cost selling. This will have the effect of putting farmers out of business,” he said in a statement this Monday.

According to the ICSA, farmers need at least €7/kg to cover the high costs of early spring lamb systems. Brooks said that Tesco’s promotional price could not return this to farmers once processing costs are taken out.

Long winter nights

“Spring lamb producers excelled as usual,” he said. “They carefully planned lambing dates /sale dates, cared for their flock pre- and post-lambing at a time of year when you have long winter nights and feed costs are at a maximum in order to have a premium product ready for Easter and early summer.”

Despite recent improvements, current lamb factory prices are just over €6/kg. Weight limits are also an issue, with most factories imposing a 20kg maximum and some lifting this by 0.5kg in the past few days.

“After all this work, the industry cheats us by paying a bad price and introducing spurious weight limits,” Brooks said, calling for weight limits to be increased to 22kg.

Tesco responds

In a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal, Tesco defended its promotion.

"This promotion was planned as part of our nationwide introduction of spring lamb and was fully funded by Tesco. The promotion is short term and runs for 10 days from 14 to 23 May 2017," a spokesperson said.

Read more

Sheep prices: improved trade for lambs