UK supermarket giant Morrisons, have announced that they are reneging on their pledge to only source and sell British lamb.

The move is being billed as being on a ‘trial basis’, but comes as extremely disappointing news for UK producers.

The supermarket brought in its British-only commitment to lamb in 2017 and the change of plan comes on the back of all of the UK’s farming unions writing to Morrisons chiefs, along with the other big supermarkets, asking for support for the UK meat production industry.

A spokesman for the supermarket told The Scottish Farmer: “Morrisons will later this week start a trial selling New Zealand lamb in 39 stores. The trial follows an extensive exercise listening to customers who were very clear that they want us to sell lamb at a more accessible price all year round.

“The blunt commercial reality is that New Zealand lamb is cheaper to source, and therefore cheaper to sell, than British lamb.

"We will remain 100% British lamb on all our butchers’ counters, and the New Zealand lamb will of course be clearly labelled so customers in these trial stores will see the difference and can make a choice.

“We do not intend this move to mean a reduction in the overall volumes of lamb that we buy directly from British farmers.”

Chief executive of the National Sheep Association (NSA), Phil Stocker, said that the move is ‘hugely disappointing’ and goes against all the principles on which supermarket has built its reputation amongst the farming community.

Mr Stocker said: “This is a very poor decision, and something NSA warned could happen during the negotiations around the new trade deals agreed with Australia and New Zealand last year.”

NFU Scotland vice president Andrew Connon, said: “As Scottish farmers and crofters emerge from a very challenging lambing time, the news will feel a bit like a slap in the face.

"It comes at a time when volumes of fresh, tasty new season lamb are growing week by week, produced to the highest standards and to a quality that is second to none.

"Choosing to turn to New Zealand at this time, and paying scant regard to concerns over food miles, needs proper explanation to the industry, backed up by reassurances."