The Pure South Handpicked Lamb programme will use an assessment system to measure eating quality, with qualifying lamb initially exported to premium retail markets in Asia and North America.
In the first year of the programme, farmers will be offered an additional 10c/kg payment to all qualifying animals that meet the requirements at the time of processing.
The 10c premium is on top of the 15c premium the group currently pays for lambs raised without antibiotics.
The programme is being unveiled to farmers at the group’s annual farmer roadshow meetings around the country that began in Omihi on September 22 and will wind up in Cromwell on October 20.
Alliance chief executive David Surveyor says the programme, which aims to build on the success of the group’s handpicked beef programme, will tap into growing demand from consumers willing to pay a premium price for red meat products from brands they can trust.
The programme is open to Alliance Platinum and Gold shareholders, who supply 100% of their ovine livestock to the company.
Lambs must be born and raised on the supplier’s property, achieve special raising claim requirements and be antibiotic-free.
They must weigh between 17.1kg–23kg, meet required levels of fat cover, intramuscular fat and have desirable pH levels. All ewes supplying lambs must be body condition scored throughout the year.
Only wether and ewe lambs qualify for the programme.
The lamb will be selected from lambs of any breed except Merino. Lambs with greater than 50% Merino genetics will not be accepted as these have their own unique attributes and are marketed under the premium Silere Alpine Origin Merino brand.
The meat will be hand-selected through Alliance’s plants and then aged to ensure eating quality.