Dealing with volatility and putting the customer first were two of the overriding themes of the EBLEX Annual Conference, which took place at Stoneleigh Park on Tuesday (4th November).
|A full house at the EBLEX Annual Conference|
After an introduction from EBLEX chairman John Cross, Waitrose agriculture manager Duncan Sinclair took to the podium and spoke about the retailer perspective on current market conditions.
His messages around the value of integrated supply chains and his honest appraisal of what is (and isn’t) working for the retailer provided an interesting insight. Of note was the huge rise in internet sales experienced by Waitrose, up 40 per cent in 2013, a phenomenon which the red meat sector can’t afford to ignore (and the fact that they give away one million cups of coffee a week to loyalty card holders!).
|Michael Sondergaard took examples from the pig industry|
The final speaker for the morning session was Allan Wilkinson, HSBC’s head of agriculture. Looking at the beef industry in the context of the wider global picture, Allan gave some very pertinent advice on how farm businesses can improve their performance and ensure they’re able to survive the rollercoaster of volatility.
|The morning question and answer panel|
The first presentation of the afternoon was from Dunbia’s head of agriculture, Jonathan Birnie, who looking at the importance of improving relationships in farming. Citing examples from his travels as a Nuffield scholar, Jonathan succinctly explained how to go about implementing change within a farm business.
The key take out from his presentation was that improving performance isn’t rocket science, it’s rather the aggregation of lots of small details.
Representing the final link of the supply chain, beef farmer and EBLEX board member James Evans then talked about how he’s made changes on his own farm to ensure they are better equipped to meet the demands of the market.
EBLEX director Nick Allen then addressed delegates, giving an outlook for the sector and summarising what had been heard during the day. With similar themes resonating throughout many of the presentations, Nick summed up the key message by saying there’s no silver bullet to prevent volatility – we have to look at how we can make a difference within our individual businesses and work together as an industry.
|EBLEX chairman John Cross addressing the audience|
Those who attended the event certainly left with plenty of food for thought and practical ideas that can be implemented in their own businesses. Those who weren’t able to make it can get a flavour of the day by viewing the presentations and the videos that are now available online.