Thursday, 11 February 2016

Market development’s vital role for beef & lamb sector in focus at Outlook 2016

Challenges facing the beef and lamb sector haven’t been far from the headlines in recent months amid pressure on prices and the impact of the strength of Sterling against the Euro.

These factors were acknowledged at the AHDB Outlook Conference at one Great George Street, Westminster, earlier this week, as was the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB’s) market development work in adding value to the red meat sector.

Delegates heard from AHDB chairman Peter Kendall about AHDB’s role in helping to seek out new market development opportunities at home and abroad for our products. They also heard how AHDB can help farmers identify where changes could be made to their businesses to help manage the impact of the current economic climate.

Opportunities for beef, in particular, were underlined in the beef and lamb breakout session with AHDB senior analyst Debbie Butcher’s market outlook for beef. Whilst acknowledging the rollercoaster ride for the sector, Debbie highlighted the importance of carcase utilisation in adding value, with the growth in fifth quarter exports to non-EU markets. Delegates also heard how last year 70 per cent of fresh/chilled beef exports were shipped as cuts, again adding value to the carcase.

The sheep market outlook from AHDB senior analyst Mark Kozlowski highlighted the price challenges from last year but identified how they had made an encouraging start to 2016. He also noted that falling EU production would present an opportunity for the UK moving forwards this year.

With Brexit also very much on everyone’s agenda the well-attended conference also heard from Professor Alan Matthews on the potential implications of UK membership, or not, of the EU. Prof Matthews’ excellent presentation examined an array of areas, including implications for potential post-Brexit food regulatory standards, prompting some lively discussion during the question and answer session.

The livestock sector’s global competitiveness was in the spotlight during the presentation by Andrew McLay who looked at the impact of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and other influential factors, including costs of production and the potential impact of the implementation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

In addition to the compelling and informative presentations in the main and breakout sessions, Outlook again provided the ideal platform for key industry contacts to network and discuss pressing issues of the day. The event also attracted nearly 20 members of the press who took the opportunity to interview external speakers and engage on social media during the event.

As outlined by our chairman, the industry will continue to face challenges. Conferences like Outlook are not only an important forum to examine these in greater detail, but also explore the opportunities and next steps for the sectors represented. AHDB will continue to work with industry to help mitigate the factors that challenge it and maximise opportunities in both the domestic and global market for our products.

Presentations from the Outlook Conference can now be downloaded from the Outlook Conference page on our website. The entire event was also filmed for the first time this year and will be available to watch next week.