About our lamb
Lamb is a seasonal meat, which means there is naturally, both highs and dips in availability of locally produced meat.
To guarantee that our lamb is 'best in season', Waitrose & Partners works with dedicated British and New Zealand farmers to provide high quality, tender lamb all year round.
Many of our farmers have been supplying us for more than a decade, so they understand and share our values and commitment to achieving the highest standards of quality, food safety and animal welfare.
Waitrose & Partners rewards these farmers with prices above market rates. This long-term commitment gives farmers the financial security they need to invest in sustainable farming methods that benefit the environment and encourage wildlife.
The lamb is reared on open pastures, with shelter from harsh weather, on a natural forage diet, supplemented with hay or root crops when grass is in short supply. We can trace all our lamb back to the group of farms where it was reared.
The meat is carefully matured on the bone to further enhance the tenderness and flavour, then hand-cut by skilled butchers, using traditional butchery methods.
West Country lamb
This comes from a small group of farmers in the English West Country, where the milder climate sees a longer grass growing season. West Country lamb is usually available all year round.
Dorset Breed lamb
Dorset Breed lamb, from Dorset Breed ewes and/or rams, is exclusive to Waitrose & Partners. Like many other traditional English breeds of sheep it takes its name from its native county but, unlike most other breeds, the lambs are born throughout the year. Our Dorset Breed lambs are born in autumn, so they provide the first 'new season' British lamb of the year. The Dorset Breed farmers stretch across the South West of England - not just Dorset county. Known for its rich flavour, the meat is available from the service counter in selected stores from January to June.
Abervale lamb is produced by farmers in Wales and the West Country. Abervale is exclusive to Waitrose & Partners and is bred for its natural tenderness. This can be found in selected stores from June to January.
Salt Marsh lamb
Salt Marsh Lamb can be found on selected service meat counters from September to November. Our Salt Marsh lamb is produced by a small group farming designated salt marshes in England and Wales. Grazing on tidal pastures, the sweet taste is created by the variety of salt tolerant plants and herbs such as samphire.
Waitrose Duchy Organic lamb
This organic lamb grazes in the lush valleys, uplands and coastal regions of the UK. The lamb comes from dedicated producers in Wales, the West Country and England, all of which are registered to an organic certifaction body. Waitrose Duchy Organic lamb is available in selected stores all year round.
New Zealand lamb
New Zealand's contrasting season to the UK makes it an ideal, complementary fit with the UK lamb season. Waitrose & Partners has been working with a group of more than 250 farmers in New Zealand for a number of years, to supply lamb that is produced to the same high welfare standards and care as our UK lamb. Known for its tenderness and sweet flavour, the New Zealand lamb for Waitrose & Partners is available prepacked, from January (when the UK season winds down) to June.
Organic New Zealand lamb
This lamb is reared to high standards set down by the New Zealand organic certification bodies, which are accredited by the UK Soil Association. It's available prepacked, from late January to May in selected stores.
Frozen New Zealand lamb
This lamb is produced to the same high farm assurance standards. The meat is matured for tenderness, and then quickly frozen to lock in the flavour. It's available all year round in our frozen cabinets.
Frequently asked questions about our lamb:
What's special about Waitrose & Partners lamb?
Lamb is a seasonal meat so to guarantee that our lamb is 'best in season', we work with dedicated groups of carefully selected farmers in the UK and New Zealand. This means we can offer the best tasting lamb all year round. Many of our farmers have been supplying us for more than 10 years, so they understand and share our values and commitment to achieving the highest standards of quality, food safety and animal welfare. Waitrose rewards these farmers with prices above market rates. This long-term commitment gives farmers the financial security they need to invest in sustainable farming methods that benefit the environment and encourage wildlife.
The lamb is reared on open pastures, with shelter for harsh weather, on a natural forage diet with hay or root crops when grass is in short supply. We can trace all our lamb back to the farm where it was reared. The meat is carefully matured on the bone to further enhance the tenderness and flavour, then hand-cut by skilled butchers, using traditional butchery methods.
How does Waitrose & Partners stock fresh lamb all year round?
Lamb is reared naturally on grass, and most British lamb is born in the spring, which means that quality lamb is only available seasonally. However, because New Zealand's seasons contrast with our own, the New Zealand lamb season starts as the main UK season tails off. We also stock Dorset lamb, from Dorset breed sheep that naturally produce lamb outside the main season. This guarantees a consistently high quality for our customers throughout the year.
Why does Waitrose & Partners sell New Zealand lamb in the winter?
This is when New Zealand lamb is 'in season'. Combined with the 'in season' UK lamb it allows us to offer consistently high quality lamb all year round.
Does Waitrose & Partners offer a choice of fresh UK lamb over the winter period?
Waitrose offers a choice of UK lamb on our service counters all year round by sourcing lamb from the West Country of England, which has a mild climate and where the grass grows for longer periods. We also sell Dorset Breed lamb during this period. The lambs are born in September and October and are ready for sale between January and June as the first 'new season' lamb.
What do UK lamb farmers think of Waitrose & Partners selling New Zealand lamb?
British farmers understand the difficulties of rearing British lamb in winter that meets the high standard they achieve with their 'in season' lamb. They see their New Zealand farming counterparts as partners in satisfying our customer demand for lamb, and in turn the demand for their lamb will remain high when the UK season returns. A number of our Welsh and New Zealand farmers have visited each others countries on organised study tours, forming friendships and sharing knowledge on how to improve their farming businesses.
Does Waitrose & Partners support British farmers?
Yes. Our ongoing long-term relationship with our farmers, ensures that they are properly rewarded through good times and bad. For example in 2007, during the Foot and Mouth outbreak, we increased our support by paying prices that exceeded the current market returns for lamb throughout a challenging season. This responsible approach has been applauded by the lamb/beef and pork industries, namely the NFU (National Farmers Union), NSA (National Sheep Association), HCC (Welsh Meat Promotions) AHDB Beef and Lamb, as a role model for other meat buyers. Many of the UK farmers supplying Waitrose have expressed their gratitude for our support.