Thursday, 26 February 2015

Educating consumers and trade about beef and lamb in Paris

Next week Paris will be preparing itself for its world-famous fashion week, but this week in the French capital, the show on everyone’s mind was the Paris International Show of Agriculture (SIA).

The week-long agricultural show is one of the largest of its nature and a staple date in the industry calendar. However, unlike many other agricultural shows which only appeal to those in the industry, SIA also opens its doors to the general public, who attend in their thousands.

Part of the broad appeal of SIA is that it is a true celebration of the diversity found in the agricultural sector. The event brings live animals, culinary products, crops and technology all under one roof. There is, quite literally, something for everyone.

There are over five exhibition halls, each offering something totally unique. One circuit of the show and you will probably have set your eyes on a canine beauty pageant, tested out the latest crop protection technology, tasted Italian ice-cream and petted a cow.

The first exhibition hall plays host to the livestock industry. As soon as visitors walk through the doors they are met with the familiar sounds and smells of the farmyard – an unexpected surprise in the middle of the city! The livestock floor houses hundreds of different breeds of cattle, sheep and pigs, as well as playing host to various retailers and food service companies.

It is a true juxtaposition of people and products. For industry officials and key players in the agricultural world, this is the ideal meeting place to share expertise and enhance professional relationships. However, for the general public this is unique opportunity to interact with animals that are not typically a part of their world and find out more about the meat they eat.

It is in this hall that AHDB France, who represent our interests across the Channel, have a stand. With a focus on promoting Quality Standard Mark (QSM) beef and lamb, the stand space was shared with Poll Dorset and Texel lambs and Hereford and Angus cattle.  The stand itself has been fashioned in the image of an old English pub, and at lunchtime samples of QSM products were offered to guests to illustrate their superior eating quality. The pub theme allows the stand to set itself apart from other exhibitors on the floor, and is immediately identifiable due to the St George logo, as this is the brand used to promote QSM beef and lamb on the French market.

The approach of coupling livestock with cooked samples of QSM beef and lamb was adopted by AHDB France, as an illustration of the scheme’s assurance which encompasses the whole supply chain. The scheme guarantees eating quality which runs in parallel with assurances of food safety, animal welfare and care for the environment.

SIA, unlike many other industry trade shows, is not only a platform to interact with industry, but also to educate and directly inform consumers across the Channel about the benefits of quality beef and lamb from England.

With around half of UK sheep meat exports heading to France, the value of maintaining close contact with this market through shows such as SIA, cannot be underestimated. SIA, like many other trade exhibitions across the Channel, provides the opportunity to showcase the quality and consistency of our beef and lamb.