Opinion

India is turning out to be a good news story for the UK’s sheep industry

The news that sheep meat exports will soon be making their way from the UK to India is to be warmly welcomed. By common consent, the sheep sector is the one that could be most exposed to a bad Brexit deal.

But beyond all of this, the establishment of these new trade links with India is further confirmation that the farm quality assurance schemes, which flockowners throughout the UK fully commit to, are working to help the sheep industry here secure the new markets it needs to guarantee its future sustainability.

But the home market must never be overlooked.

Recent press reports highlighting the fact that lamb consumption levels in some parts of the UK languish behind other meats are worthy of comment. In the first instance, headlines can be totally misleading.

The reality remains that British sheep farmers produce, possibly, the best lamb in the world. It is a meat produced almost completely from grazed grass, making it a consumer’s dream.

UK-produced lamb ticks every box. Exquisite taste and quality are guaranteed, traits that are further embellished by the traceability, welfare and other guarantees provided for courtesy of the various farm quality assurance schemes.

As it turns out, lamb is one of the most versatile meats that we can enjoy. Nutritionally, it contains all the mineral and vitamins we need. Research has confirmed that lamb is an excellent source of high-quality protein.

It is also an ideal source of iron. An average portion can provide 20% of the recommended daily intake for men and 12% for women.

Significantly, the iron found in lamb is in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. Lamb can also provide 45% of the daily requirement of zinc plus trace elements, including copper, manganese and selenium.

And, of course, the meat can be prepared for the table in many ways. Lamb mince, for example, is delicious and can be included in a host of different dishes.

There is tremendous support for locally-produced food right across the UK. And this sentiment is likely to gain further momentum.

The good news is that the sheep industry has a tremendously positive story to tell. And, no doubt, this message will sink home with British consumers to an even greater extent during the period ahead.