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Spanish Consumers Appetite for Grass-fed Lamb

21 September 2011

EBLEX

SPAIN - Spanish consumers have given a thumbs up to Quality Standard grass-fed English lamb, new research has revealed.

UK exporters have traditionally found it difficult to stimulate significant interest in Spain because of a perception that meat from the rain-fed pasture system common across northern Europe has too strong a taste, contrasting to their own milder grain-fed, domestically produced lamb.

However, research commissioned by EBLEX and carried out at three different locations in Spain with a tradition of high lamb consumption has revealed that in blind tasting, honours were even and there was no clear preference among consumers.

It is hoped the results of the work, carried out with 476 people in Catalonia, Aragon and Extremadura, will encourage more Spanish buyers to consider fast-growing breeds of lamb reared on rain-fed pastures, as typically found in England.

“Traditionally, we have faced a wall with some Mediterranean countries, particularly in Spain, who believe the lamb produced in northern Europe is not to the liking of their palate. They have a preference for their own grain-fed lamb,” said Jean-Pierre Garnier, EBLEX head of export services.

“This has been a real barrier to trade but something we felt was based on historic perception rather than people actually tasting the difference, so we put this to the test.

“A statistically significant sample of Spanish lamb eaters tested samples of lamb produced in different areas, rating it for tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall acceptability. What we found was that in both Catalonia and Aragon, they slightly preferred the sample from England to that from Spain (51 per cent to 49 per cent for both). In Extremadura, 59 per cent preferred the Spanish option while 41 per cent preferred our own. Essentially, overall, there is no real preference.

“This really does show that the Spanish consumer has an appetite for grass-fed lamb and we hope this will encourage more Spanish importers to look to buy from countries like England that use this system.”

EBLEX continues to work hard to stimulate demand for quality standard beef and lamb in overseas markets. In the last year alone, it has helped to open an additional 30 non-EU markets to domestic producers and processors.

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