Philip Hambling: Where our lamb comes from

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As Agriculture Manager for lamb at Sainsbury’s I spend most of my time out on farms and with our suppliers. This is a really important part of my job because it means I can see exactly what is being produced for our customers and work with our farmers to make improvements.

Customers want to know where the food they buy and eat comes from, and our colleagues want to get closer to what they are selling. This year I decided to take a group of 15 of our colleagues who work in various of our stores to visit one of our lamb farms In Berkshire, and at this time of year it is right in the middle of our lambing season. Many of them had never stepped on a working farm before so this was a great way for them to see the effort that goes into rearing lamb and where it comes from. The farmer got a lot out of it too as they got to hear about what our customers ask for in store.

Our customers want to be able to buy great quality lamb at all times of the year. We always have British lamb on sale throughout the year, all of the lamb on our meat counter is 100% British as well as our chilled Taste the Difference range. We’re proud to be 100% British in the main season, the time of the season varies from year to year but tends to start in the summer months running until December. Outside of this time we will source New Zealand lamb to ensure we can meet customer demand and maintain quality. Our British lamb comes from all areas of the country which means we can give customers a fantastic regional offer from our meat counters and our Taste the Difference range. For example if you’re shopping in South West England you will have the option to purchase West Country lamb.

We also have an established Lamb Development Group which has been running since 2011. This is a group of over 850 UK sheep farmers and a further 120 in New Zealand.  We also work closely with our New Zealand farmers on joint projects so that we can continually improve our product quality and production standards to meet our customers’ expectation.