Consumers across the country can now buy premium grassfed lamb from Tasmania in a deal which supermarket giant, Coles, says is a first for an Australian retailer.
Coles will offer the premium lamb under its Graze label in more than 800 supermarkets for 10 months of the year and expects to buy 100,000 lambs from 40 Tasmanian producers in the first year.
The lambs are being shipped across Bass Strait and processed by the Australian Lamb Company at Colac.
Coles developed a Graze grassfed beef range in 2014 in consultation with the Cattle Council and has now extended the program to lamb following in-house research which revealed about 80 per cent of customers wanted meat from animals raised and fed naturally.
"It's the first-ever 100 per cent grassfed lamb product a retailer has brought to market in Australia," Amila Passanovic, Coles communications manager, said.
"Tasmania has the provenance, great irrigation systems and access to water, and temperate climate which makes growing pastures very conducive for lamb, and we think that flows right through to the flavour," she said.
"Graze is a premium quality product and starts at $8.50 for 500g mince, $16 a kilogram for half leg roasts, $23 a kg for shoulder roasts, $24 for leg butterfield, $28 for chops, $32 for thick cut loin chops and $50 a kg for cutlets."
Coles' general manager for meat, Charlotte Gilbert, said while the supermarket chain sold more than 20 million kgs of lamb each year the time had come to shake up the category and offer something new and different.
"Grassfed meat is sought after by chefs for its trusted premium quality, natural taste and high Omega 3 content and we're delighted to be the first retailer to offer grassfed lamb for our customers to enjoy at home.
"We're only able to achieve this great quality product thanks to fantastic Tasmanian producers like Scott Colvin and Rebecca and Richard Johnston," she said.
Mr Colvin, who farms at Blackwood Creek 50km south west of Launceston, has been supplying Coles for four years and said Tasmanian lamb was produced in knee-deep clover.
"We're fortunate to have irrigation and an abundance of water. We're in perfect climatic conditions to grow great feed for our lambs and we think that flows right through to the flavour," he said.
Mr Colvin said the new deal with Coles provided an opportunity to showcase Tasmanian lamb around the country and gave him the chance to expand his business from the present 15,000 lambs a year.
He is supplying Coopworth-Poll Dorset cross lambs into the Coles Graze program at around 23kg carcase weight and aged between four and six months.
Richard and Bec Johnston, Westwood, near Launceston, who turn off around 10,000 lambs a year are also hoping the Graze program will allow them to expand their operation.
The Johnstons, who are also delivering Coopworth-Poll Dorset cross lambs to the Graze program every fortnight, have been contracting to Coles for about five years.
Under the Coles GRAZE program farmers are required to meet high standards in animal husbandry and pasture management standards which are independently assessed by industry auditor, AUS-MEAT.
Cattle and lambs must never be fed grain to supplement their diet even in challenging weather conditions.
The Coles Tasmanian Graze lamb production program stipulates animals must be born in Tasmania and traceable back to birth.