The Ulster Farmers’ Union brought lamb to the centre of Belfast this week and persuaded hundreds of people that sampled a number of dishes that many of the misconceptions they had about the product being fatty or difficult to cook were wrong.
The venue for the promotion of local lamb was the City Hall, and chef Paula McIntyre and LMC demonstrator, Helen Bell, both proved what a versatile product local lamb is.
The promotion was timed for the month when local supplies are at their peak, after grazing summer grass to produce a top quality product.
UFU president, Barclay Bell, said the aim was to encourage people to see the benefits of local lamb, and to think again about how versatile it can be, from roasts to curries.
“Lamb can be a bit of a Cinderella enterprise, with outcomes for farmers driven by the weather and often volatile prices. However, it is a key enterprise on our farms. Sheep production is central to managing the environment in the hills and uplands – and making a success of that ultimately depends on people being enthusiastic about eating the final product. We proved today that consumers can be persuaded to think differently about lamb – and I’m confident we can build on this to boost demand,” said Mr Bell.
In the past the UFU has been critical of some of the major supermarkets over their failure to support local lamb, opting instead to import from the southern hemisphere even when local supplies are plentiful.
“This will only change if people make clear to retailers that it is the local product, with sound environmental credentials in terms of the production system and distance travelled, that they want. I think we persuaded a lot of people today in Belfast, that our arguments in favour of a locally produced, nutritious, versatile product are sound,” said Mr Bell.