Pictured at the lamb tasting event at Belfast City Hall to mark the beginning of Love Lamb Week 2023, (L-R) sheep farmer and UFU member Ivor Ferguson, LMC marketing and communication assistant Joanne McCay, Dunbia technical account manager Emma Irwin and Dunbia senior development chef James Roedmer.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is once again getting behind the annual Love Lamb Week initiative and the key message this year is to choose local lamb always, focusing on consumers, retailers and restaurants.
To kick start the campaign, the UFU held a lamb tasting event at Belfast City Hall. It was supported by Dunbia and the Livestock and Meat Commissions (LMC) for Northern Ireland. Farmers engaged with consumers showcasing the nutritional value, delicious taste and versatility of lamb.
UFU beef and lamb chair Pat McKay said, “Northern Irish lamb is a prime example of the high-quality produce we have here, and Love Lamb Week is a great opportunity to focus on all the positives of lamb production from beginning to end.
“It cannot be underestimated how important it is for everyone in Northern Ireland to choose local lamb. This includes when shopping for home cooked meals, ordering new produce for local stores or restaurants, or choosing from a dining menu when eating out. When you purchase lamb with the Northern Ireland Farm Quality assured logo, you are supporting local farmers who produce sustainable, high-quality food, care for the environment, create rural jobs and support communities.
“If you do not see a reference to the origin of lamb on a restaurant menu or shop shelf, don’t be afraid to ask. This simple question could inspire others to do the same and influence sourcing methods due to customer demand. What you choose matters.”
Keeping the momentum going for Love Lamb Week, social media influencer Caroline O’Neill, also known as Digg Mama, will be visiting Crosby Cleland’s fam and Brendan Kelly will be doing a takeover on the UFU platform to highlight the production process of lamb on farm.
UFU hill farming chair Alastair Armstrong said, “Not everyone gets the opportunity to see beyond the farm gate and witness how lamb is produced. Transparency in the food supply chain is very important and often the hard work and commitment that farmers put into producing lamb goes unnoticed. Through social media, we want to show farming for what it truly is.
“In Northern Ireland, there is a vast amount of hill ground and sheep production is one of very few farming commodities that can thrive in the uplands. Grazing sheep on these areas enables us to turn grass into high-quality products and is a key part of maintaining our local landscape. Sheep farmers are also working to reduce their carbon footprint with a focus on improving soil health, planting hedgerows and trees, and increasing biodiversity. By choosing local lamb you are supporting local farmers to care for the environment while delivering for you and your family.”
LMC chief executive Ian Stevenson said, “We are delighted to once again partner with the UFU to promote Love Lamb Week. LMC has been an avid supporter of Love Lamb Week since its launch in 2015. This year we have a jam-packed line up for Love Lamb Week and we are looking forward to positively profiling Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured (NIFQA) lamb via sampling events, a radio partnership, press and digital activity.”
Noting that lamb is a versatile red meat that should not be overlooked, Mr Stevenson added, “We recognise that lamb is an extremely price sensitive food, and at a time when cost of living presents challenges for many it is of great importance that we as an industry reiterate that lamb is not a meat reserved for special occasions, but one that can be enjoyed as a staple part of a healthy balanced diet. As with all meats, choice of cut will dictate price. LMC have developed a range of lamb recipes, with a variety of cuts to help make lamb a cost-effective tasty and healthy option for all ages to enjoy.”
LMC will host a lamb sampling event at the Boulevard Outlet, Banbridge on Thursday 7 September from 12 noon. An invitation is extended to stakeholders and members of the public to attend as well as to explore LMC’s delicious lamb recipes that can be found here.