Thursday, 19 November 2015

Grassroots approach to putting beef and lamb on the global menu

The AHDB Beef & Lamb export team plays a vital role in getting quality assured beef and lamb on to supermarket shelves and restaurant menus all around the world.

While much of this is done through export missions, which rely on gruelling rounds of trade shows and business meetings to showcase our products, there is another, very different side to this work.
Back here on English soil, our export team, working together with our regional managers, regularly welcome groups of opinion formers from our target markets who have the opportunity to see English beef and sheep production at first hand.

One recent such visit involved a group of 10 influential French journalists, who took part in a Rosbifs Club trip to the North East of England. The select club, which has been cultivated by AHDB Beef & Lamb’s French Export Manager Rémi Fourrier, is made up chefs, butchers, journalists and other industry professionals who are united in their interest in English beef.

Building up French trust in English beef post-BSE has been no mean feat and the Rosbifs Club has been an important part of this strategy. The fact that 10 journalists, between them covering food, agriculture and the meat supply chain, chose to take time out of their busy schedules to spend two days touring the north of England is testament to the work done by Rémi and his team.

During their trip, the group had the opportunity to experience the full supply chain, including an access-all-areas visit to Dovecote Park, who supply British beef, veal and venison to Waitrose supermarkets nationwide. They also spent time at two farms, learning more about the Stabiliser Cattle Company’s industry-leading feed efficiency project and meeting Mike Powley’s South Devon herd on his family farm in Yorkshire.

The Rosbifs Club visit was followed in quick succession by an inbound mission of Polish chefs and journalists, including one of Poland’s most famous TV chefs, Karol Okrasa. The trip, which was organised by the British Polish Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with our export team, focused on lamb production in the South West of England. Lamb has essentially become a forgotten meat in Poland however, the increasing wealth of the Polish population, combined with their desire to travel and have new experiences, could translate into significant opportunities for our sheep meat exports.

Polish TV chef Karol Okrasa filming for his show
Karol, whose popular television show is usually shot entirely in Poland, brought his film crew with him. He interviewed sheep farmer Dan Newman and a butcher from DB Foods to get their insights into English lamb production, as well as getting some fantastic footage of Dorset’s rolling countryside. The chefs, who had been hand-picked to join him on the trip, enjoyed a butchery demonstration and had the opportunity to cook up a dish using locally produced lamb and seasonal vegetables, a challenge which they embraced with enthusiasm!

While these two visits were very different, their purpose was very similar. Both groups returned to their home countries having had a great experience and having gained a unique insight into our beef and sheep production systems. As influential people within their own field, they will spread the word about what they have learnt and play an important role by acting as advocates for our products. The value of this positive word of mouth can’t be over-estimated.

It goes without saying that in order for these visits to be effective, we’re entirely reliant on ambassadors from across the industry. Without passionate and knowledgeable farmers, butchers, chefs and other industry experts, this type of activity simply wouldn’t be possible.

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