Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Beefing up menus during Great British Beef Week

St George and William Shakespeare were in good company on Saturday (23rd April), as England’s patron saint’s day and the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death also marked the first day of the 2016 Great British Beef Week.

The week is the brainchild of Ladies in Beef – a formidable network of passionate female beef producers who are on a mission to tell consumers the great story of quality, home-produced beef. It aims to “raise awareness of the quality and versatility of assured British beef and give the industry a much-needed boost”. The first Great British Beef Week took place in 2011 and it’s been gaining momentum ever since.

This year, the ladies are encouraging consumers to celebrate the humble sandwich by ‘beefing up their butty’, capitalising on the popularity of sandwiches in the modern diet. There’s an array of activities taking place during the week, which runs from 23rd April to 2nd May, including steak sandwich sampling events in Exeter and Leeds and regional charity events organised by Ladies in Beef’s partner organisation R.A.B.I. Add to that a swathe of PR activity, including a 60-second Ultimate Beef Buddy video designed specifically for the YouTube generation, and there’s certainly plenty to capture consumers’ imaginations.

Coverage of the week has been impressive, with mentions in the Guardian and the Sunday Mirror, alongside radio interviews and plenty of tasty beef recipes features in cooking and lifestyle magazines. On social media, butchers, farmers, retailers and celebrity chefs have all got involved, with the week being mentioned on Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube and the Gordon Ramsay Group.

However, while poring over recipes and looking at tempting photos of beef dishes, it’s easy to forget that Great British Beef Week has a serious purpose. With the beef sector going through a difficult time, ensuring public support for producers and the supply chain is particularly important.

The week offers the industry the opportunity to rally round and showcase the best of what it has to offer to consumers. It also gives grass-roots beef producers, which includes the members of Ladies in Beef, a platform to tell their stories to media and consumers who are keen to listen.

While AHDB cannot support Great British Beef Week directly due to State Aid regulations, which apply due to how we are funded, we can still benefit from the halo effect created by the week and the loyalty this type of event helps to build. Many retailers, butchers and foodservice companies are keen to be seen to back our farming industry and it makes discussions with them much easier when the desire is already there to source quality assured beef from Britain.

Hot on the heels of Great British Beef Week, our own comprehensive programme of promotional activity, which has recently been signed off, will be getting started in earnest in May, with two months of activity to support the barbecue season. So, whether you’re giving your sandwich a makeover or getting ready to fire up the barbecue, rest assured that quality beef will be staying at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

Ladies in Beef will be in Leeds city centre tomorrow morning (Thursday 28th April) cooking up thin cut steak sandwiches for the public to try, while educating them about how quick and easy it is to create a nutritious butty. Catch them on Briggate, together with their trusty red tractor, from 11am to 3pm.

To find out more about Great British Beef Week and the Ladies in Beef, visit their website.

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