Alliance signs lamb deal with British retailer
@devlincolle: Alliance Group and British retailer Marks & Spencer have signed an exclusive sole-supply chilled lamb deal.
The companies have also committed to a new research project to examine the effect of different environments and types of feed on lamb growth rates, carcase weight and yield of New Zealand lambs.
A delegation from Marks & Spencer is in Southland this week to discuss the research and the major supply contract and meet farmers who supply the lamb.
It follows a study in 2011 at Alliance Group supplier Lone Star Farms station in Middlemarch.
The high-end retailer has had a 30-year relationship with the meat processor and exporter and buys the equivalent of 500,000 lambs, chilled legs and middles each year.
About 25 Southland and Otago farmers supply Alliance with lambs for Marks & Spencer. The British retailer buys about $30 million of produce such as honey, fruit and meat from New Zealand - about $10m is spent on Alliance lamb.
Marks & Spencer agriculture and fisheries head Steven McLean said Alliance was the only New Zealand supplier that had a sole- supply agreement with the retailer. This was because of its trade record and the relationship built up during three decades.
Alliance commitment to traceability, the strength of its research and development programme and the quality of the livestock provided by its suppliers were key factors in the decision to sign this contract, Mr McLean said.
"We have been impressed with the way that the Alliance Group's lamb products have performed over the past 12 months. The product works well and our high-end customers love it."
Marks & Spencer was committed to helping its supply chain do better and would be providing up to 50 per cent of the funding for the research programme, he said.
"We believe our role is to support innovation and progress that comes from Alliance," Mr McLean said.
Alliance Group general manager livestock Murray Behrent said the research project and exclusive contract for Pure South lamb demonstrated the strengthening relationship between the two companies.
"Alliance Group is looking forward to supplying more premium products to this important market and commencing this key piece of research to help improve the returns to our suppliers, he said.
The Southland Times