Opened by Food and Farming Minister George Eustice, the event drew a large number of delegates and considerable media interest, with journalists invited to ask him questions on the opportunities for the sector, the challenges it faces and how it can meet them.
The conference has become a key fixture in the industry calendar, an opportunity for leading players to network and for us to showcase what we’ve been doing and what the next steps are.
Developing export markets for our beef and lamb remains one of the cornerstones of EBLEX’s work. We now have access to 91 markets for beef and 102 for lamb and continue to work with government, UKTI and other industry stakeholders to help maximise the potential global export markets offer.
The overarching message from the Minister last week was a positive one. Outlining the positive role the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has to play, he cited very good long-term prospects for the future of the British beef and sheep industry. Encouragingly, Mr Eustice added that: “British produce is seen as a premium product around the world. There’s going to be growing demand for British beef and British lamb. That creates export opportunities.”
While we don’t yet have access to China for ruminants, Defra recently announced that negotiations to secure market access are underway. Welcome news, although it is very early days and likely to be a lengthy process. With the Far East very much in mind, delegates were also given an insight into trends in Asia, with an emphasis on the importance of authenticity and newness as key factors in attracting consumers to products. They also heard about next year’s Milan Expo, which will focus on food and sustainability and how the industry needs to think creatively to promote our food and drink.
Overall, the conference highlighted the many positives on the exports front for the beef and lamb industry, including the huge global opportunities and how the UK could be the main beneficiary of increased imports of beef and lamb to France. Of course, there’s always more that can be done to maximise export potential, but there’s no doubt we’re moving in the right direction. As EBLEX chairman John Cross summed up: “No global opportunity should be missed by the industry. Our mission is straightforward. If we are going to thrive, it must be on our strengths – quality and provenance.”
Presentations and videos from the event can be found in the events section of the EBLEX website by clicking here.