Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Gulfood 2013 - Highlighting opportunities for lamb exports to the Middle East

Developing new export markets has been a key part of EBLEX’s strategy since 2010, leading to market access to more than 60 non-EU countries for sheep meat, helping reduce the risk posed by fluctuating European demand.

Capitalising on opportunities that exist in the Middle East came into sharp focus this week during the Gulfood food and hospitality show at the Dubai World Trade Centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The annual show hosted more than 4,000 exhibitors from 110 countries and showcased wonderfully diverse products – from energy drinks and sweets in one aisle to livestock in the next. It also enabled EBLEX, with support from exporters who joined us on stand, to showcase the export opportunities for lamb to the Middle East, to build on existing business links and develop new ones.

With visitors and exhibitors from around the globe, the event was incredibly busy and while EBLEX’s stand was by no means the biggest, it certainly proved to be a hive of activity. Interest in what we have to offer was strong and, with the support of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and Her Majesty’s consul general Edward Hobart, export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier stressed the future for potential exports to the region to Food & Farming Minister David Heath MP when visited our stand on day one of the show.

Mr Heath also attended a lamb dinner, coordinated by EBLEX and UKTI in collaboration with the consul general and top chef Gary Rhodes, to sample some of the produce on offer. Preceded by the unusual but delicious white tomato soup and salmon and followed by lemon meringue with a twist, the lamb dinner tantalised the taste buds and proved a big hit with Mr Heath and other guests including exporters and representatives from key supermarkets in the region.

We are currently allowed to export lamb and mutton to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, but not to Oman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Gulfood has given us the opportunity to put our lamb in the spotlight and, after a busy and positive few days, will help us move towards fulfilling our full export potential in the Middle East.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Outlook 2013 highlights global opportunities for beef and lamb

While many of the coffee break and lunch conversations at Outlook 2013 inevitably turned to the horse meat scandal, the annual conference wasn’t overshadowed and provided ideal the platform to focus on future developments for the beef and lamb sector.

Hosted in Westminster by EBLEX, in conjunction with DairyCo and BPEX, delegates at the well-attended event heard cattle and sheep market outlook presentations from Debbie Butcher, senior analyst, AHDB MI/EBLEX and Paul Heyhoe, analyst, AHDB MI/EBLEX. They also heard export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier outline opportunities in the global market for beef and lamb.

Mr Garnier indicated that Japan and South Africa would be a priority in terms of exports for beef and lamb, respectively. This will hopefully continue the momentum which has helped us access to 61 countries or territories for sheep meat and 52 for beef. In 2012 work in this area included 118 marketing activities in 41 countries, 29 of which were exhibitions.

Latest European Commission forecasts have indicated that global demand for meat should grow by 1.7 per cent a year from 2012 to 2022, with the EU share of world meat trade expected to rise from 13.7 per cent to 15 per cent.

Mr Garnier added that world beef consumption remains robust, particularly in Asia and South America. Delegates heard how beef is moving upmarket, away from an everyday product to a weekend treat where quality and consistency of product is essential. Premium beef remains central to the European menu and is growing in importance in Asia.

In Britain, lower production and high beef prices are likely to continue but there is a continuing need to export fifth quarter products and open Third Country markets.

Increasing lamb consumption in northern Europe came under the spotlight, while the huge potential for lamb in Russia another new markets, was also touched on. The challenge that remains, however, is the ability to compete on price with New Zealand and Australia.

Acknowledging the current market difficulties in the lamb sector, delegates were given some cause for optimism by Mr Garnier that the medium and long term prospects for sheep meat remain positive.

Of course operating in the global market presents significant opportunities and risks and, as
EBLEX chairman John Cross reiterated in closing the conference, the industry will always faces challenges and needs to do all it can to manage volatility as part of that market.

All presentations from Outlook 2013 can be found by clicking here.

Friday, 15 February 2013

‘Horsegate’ – Protecting consumer confidence

Reassuring the public in times of crisis is vital and with ongoing revelations about horse meat, EBLEX and BPEX are taking the steps to protect consumer confidence in assured fresh meat.

On February 16th, all national newspapers will feature half page adverts highlighting the traceability and provenance of fresh beef, lamb, pork and bacon bearing the Red Tractor and Quality Standard Mark (QSM) assurance scheme labels. A further advert will appear in the Evening Standard on Monday. They have been put together as part of a co-ordinated industry campaign and will run alongside NFU adverts.

These adverts will help underpin consumer confidence and support the anecdotal evidence from multiple and independent retailers that demand for assured fresh meat has remained robust during the scandal. A Kantar poll has also shown that 20 per cent of consumers have indicated that they would buy more fresh meat and 13 per cent would buy more locally sourced meat which is encouraging.

Our advertising campaign will reiterate that by looking for the Red Tractor and QSM assurance marks on packs of fresh beef, lamb, pork and bacon, consumers can rest assured that what they are buying is fully traceable.

Additionally, caterers supplying schools across England are being offered help in sourcing assured beef and lamb in the wake of the scandal. We have contacted the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) and written to its 500-plus local authority, school and catering members in the UK to highlight the value of using meat produced as part of the Red Tractor assurance scheme, as well as its own Quality Standard Mark (QSM).

Understandably, parents want to know that what their children are eating at school is good quality and fully traceable. We are urging those companies that do supply schools to go the extra mile and demonstrate that the meat they are supplying is of a high standard with a completely transparent supply chain.

The over arching message is clearly that provenance of products is important for our consumers and as such independent auditing, which is already a key requirement of both the Red Tractor and QSM assurance schemes, will be central to ensuring consumer confidence. By looking marks on packs of fresh beef, lamb, pork and bacon consumers reiterate consumers can be assured of the traceability of what they are buying.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The seven ages of red meat

All too often, red meat is demonised. The role of red meat as nutritious part of a balanced diet is eroded by ill-informed media reports of some new observational (never causal) studies suggesting red meat has an adverse affect on health. Often it is not new, just old work repackaged to gain more headlines.

So it is nice to get some positive research on this front to back up the fact that millions of people have eaten meat for millions of years because they enjoy it – and have lived a long and healthy life.

A new report has been published online and is set to appear in the coming edition of the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin. The Micronutrient challenges across the age spectrum research paper asks the question: is there a role for red meat in the diet? And the answer is a resounding “yes”.

A team of experts studied data from 103 previous scientific papers on red meat and nutrition and found that including red meat as a staple of your diet, whatever your age, can help cut the gap between recommended intakes of essential minerals and the current intake levels for many people, while helping to boost the immune system and stimulate brain function. It also helps address low iron issues, which is a common problem for many women in particular. A quarter of women (and over 40 per cent of those aged 19 to 34 years) have intakes of iron below even the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI) benchmark.

Red meat contains iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It is acknowledged that these are beneficial to the body and this report looks at which specific micronutrients are good for you across the “seven ages of man”. For instance, studies show infants and pre-school children are lacking in vitamin A, vitamin D, iron and zinc, so red meat can help. Teenage diets can be low in most things! Adults, particularly females, lack magnesium and iron while, if you are 75 or older, intakes of magnesium, zinc and potassium may well be below the recommended nutrient intake.

Lean red meat, eaten within daily guidelines as part of a balanced diet, can help improve nutritional intake. In addition, people who eat lean meat regularly tend to eat more vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products and have a higher intake of nutrients overall, suggesting that inclusion of red meat does not displace other important foods. Any suggestion, therefore, that red meat intake should be cut significantly must be thought about long and hard in this context.

You can get more information about the seven ages of man insights here.