What’s the world coming to when a Southland farmer pops along to his local in Gore and finds he’s chewing on Aussie chops?
Gore was built on the back of sheep farming but chomp on a chop at one of the town’s most popular restaurants and it’s likely to be Australian lamb. That’s what Wendon Valley farmer Mike Joyce discovered last weekend when he ordered rack of lamb at the Mataura Licensing Trust’s flagship restaurant-bar Howl At The Moon. When he asked the chef where it was from he was told Australia — “I was just so wild”. The chef told him New Zealand lamb was too expensive and added that the pork on the menu was from Denmark.
“The Mataura Licensing Trust does a good job but, jeez, why can’t we use our own lamb?” There would be any amount of sheep farmers willing to supply their local restaurants, cutting out the middle men and getting more for their product, Mr Joyce said.
MLT general manager John Wyeth said the trust tried to use local produce whenever possible but could not get a guaranteed supply all year round and at a reasonable price. He could appreciate Mr Joyce’s concern but it came down to cost and supply. Local produce was not necessarily the most cost-effective — “just look at the price of milk and cheese”, Mr Wyeth said.
The year round supply at a reasonable price is the key – lamb is seasonal and the price varies. It’s not hard to supply the right quality and price in the peak of the season but not many farmers are able to supply it all year round.
However, it is difficult to understand why, when the price of lamb at the farm gate is so low it’s so expensive at the butcher or a restaurant. And if Australian lamb is cheaper does that mean farmers across the Tasman get even less for their stock than we do?