IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney of a new EU lamb promotion campaign to drive consumption across six of Europe’s main consumer markets for lamb. He said the programme will involve €7.7m in promotional expenditure between 2015 and 2017.
John Lynskey said IFA has been working hard with European colleagues in COPA and at the EU Sheep Advisory Committee on this programme in Brussels over the last two years. He said, “There are real challenges on lamb consumption and IFA was determined to have an EU promotional programme to replace Agneau Presto, which had operated on the French market for the last 5 years.”
John Lynskey said the new programme will promote lamb by encouraging people to cook with lamb across six countries: Ireland, UK, France, Denmark, Belgium and Germany. The programme is a joint application involving Bord Bia in Ireland, EBLEX in the UK and Interbev in France and is supported by matching funding from the EU promotion fund. John Lynskey said IFA had lobbied hard at European level to get the Commission to include lamb in their promotional funding.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said the fall in lamb consumption across the EU is very worrying for producers. It is estimated that consumption is down 20% in the EU since 2000. He said, “This new programme, which will kick off in 2015, will focus on the 25 to 45 year old group of consumers and involve online communications, food bloggers and journalists as well as in-store merchandising, incentives for butchers and advertising”.
John Lynskey said it is very important that this new programme complements existing Bord Bia promotional work on the domestic market.
He said the price prospects for 2015 remain positive with the EU Commission forecasting price increases for both heavy and light lamb. Reduced production in some of the main member states, a strong live trade to North Africa and reduced imports from New Zealand all point to positive price prospects for next year.
The IFA man said the EU are predicting sheepmeat output in the EU to contract by just under 1% in 2014 to approximately 916,000 tonnes, with most countries indicating a further decline in supplies for 2015. He said the fall in production is largely driven by lower output in France, Spain and Germany. French production is expected to be down 2.5% with some recovery next year. However, production in the UK and Ireland is set to increase in 2014.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said production is set to continue its reduction into 2015 but at a slower rate. He said one of the largest sheep flocks in the EU in Spain is set to decline a further 9% in 2015. Production is also set to decline in Germany. John Lynskey said the EU are predicting a small increase in production in France, the UK and Ireland due to increases in the breeding flock.