Southland-based meat processor Alliance Group has secured an
exclusive contract to supply chilled New Zealand lamb to
major UK-retailer Marks and Spencer.
The supply arrangement, from Christmas this year, was the
first time Marks and Spencer had agreed to an exclusive deal
for chilled lamb from a single New Zealand supplier.
Lambs would be sourced from approved farms across the South
Island for processing at the company's Lorneville, Pukeuri
and Smithfield plants.
The contract marked a "major milestone" in Alliance Group's
20-year relationship with Marks and Spencer, marketing
general manager Murray Brown said in a statement.
"As they have a loyal customer base for lamb, coupled with
the fact that our chilled lamb programme runs
counter-cyclical to the UK domestic supply season, we're very
excited about the growth opportunities it offers for everyone
involved," he said.
Alliance Group was now exploring other initiatives in its
agricultural, technical and commercial divisions with Marks
and Spencer to "maximise the benefits" of the partnership.
All Alliance Group products supplied to Marks and Spencer
would be sourced from registered M&S Select Farms so the
co-operative could trace lambs back to their farm of origin.
The M&S Select Farm scheme saw supplying farmers
registered on M&S TRAK, a traceability management system
launched by Marks and Spencer in 2009.
The programme, which included lamb suppliers from both New
Zealand and the UK, featured a database that monitored
farm-management, animal origin, and livestock records.
Last month, Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper
said Silver Fern Farms could not offer organic lamb to Marks
and Spencer when it put up its annual six-month supply of
chilled New Zealand lamb for sole tender.
While unfortunate, given the effort from both Silver Fern
Farms and suppliers who have supported Marks and Spencer for
the past five years, the company's priority was to maximise
organic and overall chilled supply to supermarket retailer
Tesco, Mr Cooper said.