Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Building on the foundations for future success

It’s been said that a goal without a plan is just a wish. At yesterday’s EBLEX annual conference, the sector’s goals and how to achieve them were clearly set out – maximise current market opportunities and attract more highly skilled youngsters into the industry to secure the future.

There’s no doubt the sector has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, fuelled increasingly by global demand outstripping supply.  Beef prices have been increasing and sheep meat demand is going to remain high and exceed production, so opportunities remain despite ongoing price volatility.

A number of positives could be taken from yesterday’s conference, from EBLEX’s ongoing success in developing export opportunities to meeting domestic demand and tackling environmental challenges faced by the industry. Engagement with the industry was good with many stakeholders in attendance, plus producers and processors, who were able to ask questions and air their views. During question and answer sessions, questions included, ‘should EBLEX have an elected board?’ (This requires a change in statute and something which is out of our hands), and ‘Is it time for a review of Red Tractor?’ (It is still very effective in acting as a differentiator for farm assured produce). There was also lively debate which continued long after chairman John Cross closed proceedings.

Work on exports again shone as a success story. Delegates heard how over the last two years EBLEX has helped secure access to more than 50 new non-EU markets, which is no small feat. The work, however, doesn’t stop and we continue our efforts to secure access to more markets, although this can be a complex and lengthy process.

On the domestic front, we heard how EBLEX has been campaigning to encourage people to cook more with beef and lamb, from those new to cooking through to those who cook regularly. National advertising and the ongoing promotion of new cuts of lamb, in particular, is starting to resonate with a range of audiences.  In terms of how the sector is tackling climate change issues, delegates heard how we’re on track to reach target emissions.

So, a lot of good work is already being done to consolidate the sector’s position in terms of helping producers and processors maximise potential and its increasingly crucial role in helping drive economic recovery. However, the future success of the industry lies in harnessing new talent, chairman John Cross spelled out. In his closing remarks, he left delegates with the message that while the industry has a sound future, we need to attract more highly-qualified young people to maintain the momentum.

  • Presentations from the conference can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.