Top British retailer says NZ lamb more sustainable than rivals

New Zealand farmers are not surprised that a top British supermarket retailer has hailed New Zealand lamb as more sustainable for them than its Welsh rival.

Marks and Spencer director of store development Richard Gillies told a recent conference in London that different feeding regimes meant New Zealand lamb was more "sustainable" than Welsh lamb.

New Zealand Federated Farmers said today that many studies had been done into the sustainability of New Zealand exports, so they already knew what Mr Gillies had said.

But they were pleased large British supermarkets were now aware of the sustainability of New Zealand meat.

A Federated Farmers spokesman said most exports into Britain from New Zealand were by ship, which helped make it more sustainable than importing from somewhere such as Wales, which relied on truck transport.

New Zealand farmers also did not have to feed sheep much supplementary food because they were grass-based fed which made them more environmentally friendly.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Bruce Wills said Mr Gillies' comment showed supermarkets were now doing much more thorough analyses.

"We have been forced to be efficient and productive because 92 percent of our lamb [is exported], we have got to do it efficiently.

"The whole sustainability issue is right at the forefront of our thinking of what we do, it's hugely important."

The New Zealand meat industry earned export revenue of $6.4 billion in 2009, according to the Meat Industry Association.

A report compiled by AgResearch in March studying the greenhouse gas footprint for exported New Zealand lamb found the total carbon footprint was calculated at 1.9 kilogram CO²-equivalents for a 100 gram portion of lamb meat.

This was broken up into 80 percent for the on-farm stage, 3 percent for meat processing, 5 percent for transportation and 12 percent for the consumer phase.

The report found "oceanic shipping is already by far the most emissions-efficient method of transportation but further gains in efficiency are being actively pursued by shipping lines and shippers globally".

Mr Gillies' comments come soon after a Hawke's Bay lamb farm was named by Marks and Spencer as its top supplier of any food.

Sam and Hannah Morrah's Wallingford farm beat food suppliers worldwide, including banana growers in Costa Rica and St Lucia, coffee from Kenya and the prawns of Thailand to take home the top prize.


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