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National Lamb Day to be relaunched
Katrina Thomas
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National Lamb Day to be relaunched

AgProud chairman Jon Pemberton is on a mission to relaunch National Lamb Day

Kiwis are being encouraged to crank up the barbecue this summer and enjoy New Zealand lamb.

AgProud chairman Jon Pemberton and a group of like-minded farmers are on a mission to relaunch National Lamb Day on February 15, 2024.

‘’We want everyone, wherever they are, to enjoy great tasting New Zealand lamb.’’

The date February 15 is significant, as on this day in 1882 the first shipment of frozen lamb left Port Chalmers on the ship known as the Dunedin.

However, National Lamb Day was currently celebrated in New Zealand on May 24, the date the ship arrived in the United Kingdom, Pemberton said.

This date came and went each year without much fanfare, but Pemberton believed moving it to the summer made a lot more sense.

‘’Nobody wants to have a barbecue in cold, s....y weather.’’

As National Lamb Day coincides with the Southern Field Days at Waimumu, plans were already under way to showcase lamb at the South Island’s largest agricultural event.

Southern Field Days chairman Steve Henderson said it was a “cool idea to bring National Lamb Day back to summer and hold it at field days”.

‘’Lamb is critical to agriculture and the red meat industry in New Zealand.

‘’I hope everyone will get behind it,’’ Henderson said.

Pemberton said AgProud planned to crank up the barbecue on Thursday, February 15 and give away free lamb chops at field days.

Special guests would also be in attendance including several Olympians and Southland chef Ethan Flack had pledged his support.

Pemberton said he grew up eating roast lamb around the kitchen table and he hoped National Lamb Day would reignite that tradition.

A survey by Beef + Lamb New Zealand showed Kiwis were choosing lamb as their preferred main meat on Christmas Day.

More than a third of respondents (34.29%) in the Retail Meat New Zealand annual Christmas survey, opted for lamb over ham (33.17%).

Beef was ranked in third place at 13.34% while chicken (7.97%), prevailed over turkey (7.75%).

The annual survey captured responses from more than 3000 people.

Pemberton acknowledged it was a challenging time for sheep farmers with low lamb prices, but National Lamb Day would be an opportunity to celebrate this classic red meat.

Lamb had also reduced in price at the supermarket, making it more affordable for consumers, he said.

‘’We are looking forward to seeing national sales go up and people enjoying lamb a lot more.’’

Pemberton said he hoped making lamb a feature at field days would also help bridge the urban and rural divide.

‘’People that can’t access the free barbecues provided by the meat companies will be able to come and see us for a free chop.

The relaunch of National Lamb Day was being supported by farmers, meat processors, retailers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc, the organisation responsible for the domestic promotion of beef and lamb.

B+LNZ Inc chief executive Kit Arkwright said he was pleased to help establish an annual celebration for lamb.

‘’We hope this day can become an enduring yearly celebration and you can take a moment to appreciate how delicious New Zealand lamb is,’’ Arkwright said.

Story written by Diane Bishop from the The Southland Times

Order a National Lamb Day T-Shirt

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