The Paris Agriculture Fair is not only about French farmers. This year, on the EBLEX booth (organisation for English beef and sheep industry) we have met with British breeders who were eager to share their talent with their French counterparts.
Here is what we found out:
French people eat A LOT of British lambs:
In fact according to EBLEX’s website, France alone accounts for 60% of all lamb exports!
Since at least the early 2000’s France’s lamb meat production has decreased dramatically to the point where France is forced to import meat.
“Sheep meat exports to France increased by 141% in the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011 – in 2001 23,832t of sheep meat was exported compared to 57,643t in 2011. In terms of monetary value, British sheep meat exports to France are now worth just over £221m compared with £61.4m in 2001.” French get an appetite for British lamb, Gemma Mackenzie. The Weekly Farmer
Nevermind the French agriculture, we are just not producing enough.
French Pride vs British branding :
But the British were even smarter. Precisely because the French are touchy on meat matters and would presumably not like to be reminded that they are unable to produce enough, the Brits placed their bet on branding.
St George, Sctoch lamb or Welsh lamb are being sold all over France as high quality products. EBLEX packages the meat pieces in a way that will remind the customer of the British countryside. The image of the cottage house in England for instance is associated with high value products.
Friendly websites such as “ilovemeat.fr” further provide the young customers with all the digital tools to try out recipes.
” The St George branded lamb is sold in just over 50 supermarkets in France, including the Leclerc store in Villeparisis in the north-east of Paris. According to the shop’s head butcher, Thierry Khelifi, the packaging is very attractive to consumers, especially younger people who are not as concerned about where the lamb comes from.” French get an appetite for British lamb, Gemma Mackenzie. The Weekly Farmer
However, the topic is still somehow taboo. On the Salon de l’Agriculture British breeders explained that they wished to remain as discreet as possible to avoid conflict with the French producers and public. As France’s agriculture sector is going through a crisis, they are afraid to be wrongly perceived as trying to invade the market.
But as a matter of fact, British sheep meat seems to be both better and cheaper. How come?
At the Salon de l’Agriculture, we met a British sheep breeder who agreed to explain for us what makes British meat so outstanding. The magical formula is called “Performance Recording” – a mix of expert genetics and good sense.