Wednesday, 23 December 2015

What happened in beef and lamb in 2015?

With less than a week until the New Year, at AHDB Beef & Lamb HQ, we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on the outgoing year.

We ended 2014 with the announcement that the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) would be co-funding a post at the British embassy in Beijing for the first UK Agriculture and Food Counsellor in China. Successful candidate Karen Morgan, former leader of Defra’s Competitive Farming team, was tasked with helping to grow food and drink exports to the country, with access for beef and lamb high on the agenda. To put the Chinese appetite for meat into context, they consume 1.7million pigs every single day. That’s a big prize!

However, our market development work for Quality Standard Mark (QSM) beef and lamb has not been limited to overseas markets this year. Our focus on the home market continues to be central to what we do, and ensuring we have a product fit for today’s consumers is central to that. Lamb continues to prove it has a part to play in shopper’s diets, especially within the halal sector.

Muslims consume around 20 per cent of all sheep meat sold in England. A raft of activity took place this year to help raise awareness amongst this group of consumers about the quality and versatility of home-grown lamb and how best to cook it. A halal facts booklet was launched in June to help understand the value of this market. Those wishing to get hard copies of the booklet were able to do so at the Eid Mela Festival in Birmingham in August, where AHDB Beef & Lamb were on hand to share lamb butchery techniques, insights into new and innovating cuts and hand out some delicious tasters.

Sheep meat production for the halal market went on to hit the small screens later that month, with AHDB Beef & Lambs’ 15-minute infomercial – ‘Farm to Fork’. Broadcast to over 136 countries, via the Islam Channel, the film highlighted the quality and traceability of product destined for the Halal market. The infomercial went on to become one of the top 10 most popular videos featured on Beef and Lamb TV – the AHDB Beef & Lamb YouTube channel.

Video content generally was big news in 2015, thanks in part to the launch of the Beef and Lamb Bitesize. The new monthly news digest, launched in February, provides viewers with the latest industry news and market information in a snappy video format. Keen to make use of smartphone and tablet technology, it also provides a platform for farmers and processors to pose questions to the AHDB Beef & Lamb team with the ‘Ask AHDB’ feature.

As our online media content continued to grow, so did our audience. In 2015 (so far!), there have been over 67,835 independent views of our YouTube channel. This translated into a huge 167,884 minutes of content being watched, with an average of seven hours watched each day.

YouTube wasn't the only beef and lamb social media channel to flourish in 2015. Our Twitter account saw its followers grow by almost 25 per cent during 2015, as nearly 2,000 more people decided to keep up to date with the latest beef and lamb news and insights. On average, each month 270 of those followers decided they wanted to share some of these insights via retweeting what they had seen, pushing our messaging out to an even wider audience.

Facebook also continued to grow in importance as a messaging channel for us, as fans of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Facebook page grew by 30 per cent, with more than 1,200 additional people liking the page. Delicious

No one can deny that 2015 was also the year of sport, with both a cricket and rugby World Cup taking place. However, it wasn’t just on the sports pitches where we came up against Australia and New Zealand. In September Team GB, backed by AHDB Beef & Lamb, flew to New Zealand to compete in the ultimate test of butchery skill, the Tri-Nations Butchers Challenge. The tightly fought contest saw Team GB pipped to the post by their Kiwi counterparts. However, the competition, now its fourth year, highlighted the skill and calibre of today’s butchers to an international audience and allowed sharing of best practice.

The year ends for AHDB Beef & Lamb with a new chairman – Warwickshire-based farmer – Adam Quinney. He is joined by new sector strategy director, Laura Ryan, who takes on the role following seven years in the trade marketing team. Their appointments mark an exciting time for the organisation, as we continue to work to our purpose of equipping levy payers with independent, evidence-based information and tools to grow and become more competitive and sustainable. We’re looking forward to 2016!

In the meantime, from all at AHDB Beef & Lamb, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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