Benchmarking Northern Ireland Lamb, a report by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute that was part-funded by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), investigated the eating quality and acceptability of Northern Irish lamb in comparison to lamb produced in New Zealand.
The report showed that lambs at nine- to 12 months of age performed very well in independent eating quality and likeness trials, demonstrating that the eating quality and consumer acceptability of lamb produced all year round in Northern Ireland was as good as lamb produced in New Zealand.
The results found that there was no significant difference in terms of consumer liking and eating quality between male or female lambs processed at nine- to 12 months of age and younger New Zealand lambs at four- to six months of age.
Northern Ireland lambs were selected from commercial production between January and April 2017. They were cooked and compared in taste tests with New Zealand lamb and were tested on the criteria of aroma, tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall.
LMC’s mystery shopper data indicated that, in December 2017, some retailers sourced as much as 40% of their lamb products from New Zealand.
Lamb from Northern Ireland recently enjoyed success at the Great Taste Awards. Hannan Meats, an award-winning meat processor, gained three stars and Top 50 Food status in last year’s UK Great Taste Awards for Himalayan salt-aged lamb, reared at Glenarm in Co Antrim.