Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Switching consumers back on to lamb

Encouraging consumers, and particularly younger people, to eat and cook lamb is undoubtedly a challenge for the industry. While we know consumers appreciate lamb for its taste, there still exists a preconception that it is fatty and, therefore, wasteful. This combined with the fact that it has become somewhat of a premium meat over the past 18 months has affected sales both at retail and within the foodservice sector.

That’s why EBLEX has launched the three-year ‘Discover Lamb’ campaign, which aims to reposition lamb as an affordable and versatile meat that families can enjoy throughout the week.

One specific element of the campaign, launching next month, features TV presenter Ben Shephard and former politician Edwina Currie. Appearing on packs of Red Tractor assured lamb in supermarkets, consumers will be invited to place a vote for either ‘Ben Shepherd’s Pie’ or ‘Edwina’s Lamb Curry’, with the incentive of being entered into a competition to win one of 25 multimedia tablets. The promotion is linked to the 5by25 campaign which, with the help of a number of charity partners, aims to encourage young people to learn how to cook five dishes by the age of 25.

In addition to the on-pack activity, Ben and Edwina will tour the country stopping at youth organisations and community centres, in a bid to get young people cooking and mastering their signature dish. Each celebrity is aiming to gain the biggest following for their dish by encouraging people to vote for their favourite via  and by spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter.

Our consumer website,, will feature on the materials and a special ‘Discover Lamb’ section will be developed. The Simply Beef and Lamb Facebook page, which has over 30,000 likes, will also be used to communicate the latest information.

‘Discover Lamb’ isn’t the first initiative of its type we have been involved with. In France, the Agneau Presto (quick lamb) campaign, which is a partnership between EBLEX, Bord Bia, and Interbev, was introduced to address a decline in lamb consumption. With an emphasis on promoting quick and easy lamb recipes, Agneau Presto features a mobile app and e-marketing in order to appeal to younger consumers, as well as in-store promotional activity. The campaign is can boast some success, with 20 pilot stores who have taken part in the initiative seeing sales increase by an average of 20% in volume terms.

Stimulating demand on the home market continues to be a key part of our strategy to generate the best returns for the industry. You can find out more about our marketing activity by visiting our consumer ( and trade ( marketing websites.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Proud of beef and lamb

Did you know the English red meat sector has a net annual worth of nearly £1.7 billion? Or that it takes just 67 litres of water to produce a kilogram of beef in this country? Or that around 89,000 people are directly employed in beef and lamb production in England, with an additional 500,000 in allied industries. These are the sorts of facts it is great to drop into conversation when talking to others about our industry – but it is not always so easy to recall them on demand when there is so much else going on.

For some time, both farmers and other stakeholder organisations have told us how useful it would be to have a handy booklet with a sprinkling of industry facts in to help spread the word about our efficient production, the quality of our beef and lamb products and the size and value of production. So we have put together the Proud of Beef and Lamb booklet.

It does no more than scratch the surface of the key facts and good things about beef and lamb production but hopefully serves as a handy guide to share with others in the industry, with consumers who know little about our work and to counteract detractors of the industry keen only to focus on what they perceive as negatives.

The fact is that England is one of the most efficient places in the world to produce quality beef and sheep meat because of our landscape and climate – and our producers are working hard to improve further and reduce our environmental footprint. We want to get this, and many other messages, out there more prominently to educate people, and Proud of Beef and Lamb is another tool to help us do that.

Hard copies of the booklet are available on request by calling 0870 242 1394 or emailing Alternatively, the booklet can be downloaded here.

Other key facts about red meat production its environmental performance, as well as those related to health and nutrition, and can be found here.

And if you want to help us spread the word on Twitter, use #proudofbeefandlamb as often as you can!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Beef and lamb worth shouting about

Taking centre stage and shouting about how great we are rarely top the list of our national traits, but when you’ve got something worth shouting about, you might as well shout about it on the global stage.
With the world’s eyes firmly fixed on London over the last few weeks, it presented the perfect opportunity to showcase Quality Standard beef & lamb to a global audience.

That’s precisely what EBLEX did last week at the Great Food Event in London, to promote food and drink exports to media professionals from around the world.

Organised by Defra and hosted by the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, journalists from across the world sampled some of the nation’s top produce, not least beef and lamb at the EBLEX stand.

Part of EBLEX’s wider work over the last couple of years has been adding Third Country markets to open up new trading routes. It has led to the opening up more than 50 new non-EU markets by providing the support services, funding and drive to keep things moving, creating more demand for beef and lamb exports to bolster returns for farmers.

And judging by how quickly guests were out of the blocks to head to the EBLEX stand, the appetite for high-quality beef and lamb was clear to see, with several faces becoming more familiar after visiting the stand repeatedly throughout the evening!

It’s been impossible to ignore the fact that London has universally won the world over in recent weeks. Good to see also that our produce continues to win new fans and long may that continue.

A selection of photos from the event can be viewed by visiting

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Raising the bar for sheep farmers

As the world’s top athletes rise to their respective challenges on the global stage, EBLEX is raising the bar for the nation’s sheep farmers to get the best performance from their rams.

Our Better Returns Programme has for some time made great strides in helping producers evaluate their business and identify where improvements can be made in terms of efficiency and animal performance.

Step forward the ‘Five Tonne Tup’, or at least the ‘Five Tonne Tup’ campaign, encouraging farmers to measure their annual average output per tup, and identify where improvements can be made if they are not reaching a minimum of five tonnes of lamb (liveweight). The average output per tup can be measured by number of ewes put to each tup x number of lambs reared per ewe x sale weight = weight of lamb produced per tup per year (tonnes liveweight). For example: 75 ewes/ram x 1.6 lambs reared/ewe x 42kg finished weight = 5 tonnes liveweight.

Challenging? Yes. On the face of it, the five tonne target may seem tough. Figures from our Business Pointers annual costings data, for example, show that the average sheep producer in England is only getting 2.9 tonnes of lamb liveweight per tup per year.

Achievable? We certainly think so. Our calculations demonstrate that an annual output of five tonnes per tup is a realistic aspirational target for a commercial flock, providing the rams used on the farm are carefully selected and efficiency measures are monitored and managed.

And the potential returns speak for themselves. Recent calculations revealed the gap between 2.9 and five tonnes represents a difference of nearly £4,000 per tup. It’s simply something that the industry can’t afford to ignore.

For more information about the EBLEX Better Returns Programme visit Further information on Fit for Purpose Rams can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

All change for Market Surveys

Information is more often than not of most use when presented clearly and concisely to recipients.

With that in mind EBLEX has launched the Cattle & Sheep Weekly to replace the UK Market Survey, which has been published in a similar format for over 40 years, and its sister publication the European Market Survey.

It has come in response to feedback from farmers wanting market information in a more accessible format, illustrating again how EBLEX is working with the industry to ensure the most up-to-date relevant facts and figures are available at the touch of a button.

The new two-page publication, one page each for the cattle and sheep markets, will be published every Friday. The shortened format will provide key market indicators, analysis of prices and short articles on other topical market issues or data releases, including slaughterings, trade, consumption and census data.

In addition, more in-depth analysis of these and other market issues, including full coverage of international markets and supply forecasts, will be available in the monthly Cattle and Sheep Market Update. The first of these will be published this week.

There have been changes to the markets section of the website also. A suite of additional data is now available at to complement the information available in these publications. These spreadsheets include information from the two existing weekly publications, incorporating historical data to enable the easy identification of trends. Over time, they will become a comprehensive library of historic data.

Both publications are available free of charge. Existing subscribers to the UK and European Market Surveys will automatically receive the Cattle and Sheep Weekly. The monthly Cattle and Sheep Market Update will automatically be sent to previous subscribers to the Cattle Market Outlook or Sheep Market Outlook, as well as subscribers to the market surveys.

To subscribe to either publication, or change an existing subscription, please contact