Bring back mut­ton

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

THe di­ver­sity of Bri­tain’s sheep meat de­serves the same con­sumer recog­ni­tion as that en­joyed by re­gional beers and cheeses, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sheep As­so­ci­a­tion (NSA).

Aided by a grant from The Prince’s Coun­try­side Fund, the NSA is to con­duct a study into how best to pro­mote con­sump­tion of meat—not only lamb, but hogget and mut­ton as well—from her­itage breeds con­nected to spe­cific land­scapes, from the Herd­wicks that are an em­blem of the Cum­brian fells to the ex­moor Horn, lan­cashire’s lonk and the Beu­lah Speck­led Faces that roam the Powys hills.

‘The idea is to try to cap­ture the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion by telling the story be­hind the meat—the his­tory, the breed and the land­scape—and con­vey that it’s not just one type of meat,’ ex­plains the NSA’S mut­ton con­sul­tant Bob Ken­nard.

Bri­tain has more breeds of sheep than any other coun­try, com­pris­ing 25% of the eu flock. The UK is the world’s sixth big­gest ex­porter of sheep meat, pro­duc­ing one-third of the eu’s sup­ply, hence ap­pre­hen­sion over post­brexit trade deals (‘Shaggy sheep sto­ries’, March 29).

The NSA re­ports an ‘alarm­ing’ drop in na­tive sheep pop­u­la­tions, plus a re­duc­tion in tra­di­tional farm­ing meth­ods ‘due to com­mer­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal pres­sures’. ‘we have a price­less as­set in our sheep gene pool, the traits of some we are just start­ing to un­der­stand,’ says NSA chief ex­ec­u­tive Phil Stocker. ‘These na­tive sheep and the farm­ing sys­tems they be­long to are too valu­able to be pro­tected by agrien­vi­ron­ment schemes alone. Our sheep in­dus­try would do well to look at how to win back mar­ket share, even if we are ini­tially talking of niche vol­umes.’ KG

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.