Lockdown has shown a marked increase in consumption of home-reared lamb, NSA chief executive Phil Stocker told the NSA Cymru/Wales annual regional members' meeting.

He said the conclusion was that, before lockdown, the catering trade had been using significant amounts of Australian lamb.

The virtually held meeting was well attended and generally upbeat. Mr Stocker said: “I think as we come out of lockdown, it’s going to be one of the areas that we’re going to need to really focus on.

“We need to try to expose a bit of a spotlight on that catering and hospitality trade around traceability and try and encourage a greater level of transparency over some of their sourcing.”

He explained that figures for the past year suggested there had been a growth of 4 per cent to 9 per cent in lamb sales to the domestic market. And people clearly weren’t afraid to pay a bit more for a quality product, because the value of that lamb had increased by around 19 per cent.

High Street butchers and farm shops reported trade had doubled or trebled, even quadrupled, with the vast majority of that meat being British. It wasn’t being sold on a ‘stack it high and sell it cheap’ basis. People were paying good money to treat themselves at home.

Phil Stocker added: “I think we’ve also got to do a bit more to make sure that some of the growth we’ve seen in those independent outlets is maintained as we go forward. The range and diversity we’ve got in our market place is of great value to us. We’ve got to work hard to maintain that.”

Brexit had been a real worry, but there was relief over the zero tariffs secured before Christmas. However the non-tariff barriers, such as border control posts, export health certificates and bureaucracy, meant that access to European markets wasn’t as easy as it had been. Additional costs amounted to as much as £1,400 per lorry.

Meanwhile, figures showed that opportunities were beginning to open up in other parts of the world, with the 96 per cent of the 35 per cent of lamb production that went to Europe reduced to 91 per cent.

He warned, though, that it would take a very long time to build such trade and wider exports wouldn’t replace the volumes going to the European Union.