Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The ups and downs of 2014 and outlook for 2015

As this year draws to a close, it is not uncommon to start thinking about the New Year ahead – with resolutions and plans no-doubt being made – many which will be kept, some which will no doubt fall at the first hurdle. But it is important too, to use this time as an opportunity to look back and reflect on the year that is coming to an end.

That is exactly what EBLEX director, Nick Allen, has been doing recently. Nick spoke to EBLEX TV about the highs and lows of 2014, and offered an insight into what the industry can expect in 2015.

His first high point of this year was the work done on the export markets and the progress made. Hong Kong is now the second largest importer of English lamb (France is the largest), and headway is still being made on the Chinese Market (although it is not a quick process and could take a number of years). Opening up access with China would have a huge beneficial impact for English producers for two reasons.

The first is the sheer number of people living in the country, with 1.4billion in 2013 - and that figure is still growing. Not only is the population expanding, but so is the average individual wealth, meaning there are more middle-class families and budgets that can be choosy about their food, and as grass-fed English beef and lamb is seen as a quality product, it means that the appeal for our product is there. The second reason is that Chinese consumers waste very little of the carcase, so there is a financial value placed on some of the parts that would perhaps end up as waste product in the UK.

To put the Chinese appetite for meat into context, they consume 1.7million pigs every single day.

To continue the work of getting market access to China, the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) have announced that they will be funding a full-time post for someone to be based in Beijing.

Nick also mentioned that some of the new initiatives launched by EBLEX in 2014 as highlights. The Better Returns Programme launched their teleconferences, which allow farmers to phone in at a set time from their farm office, kitchen or tractor and hear from industry experts. In case you missed them, the teleconferences from 2014 are available to listen again.

Market volatility. Two words which producers will be familiar with after this year, and unfortunately, they are words which are not going away. According to Nick, in order to prepare for the challenges that the industry presents, it is important to plan for businesses over three to five years rather than year-on-year.

Looking forwards, market intelligence suggests that beef will be in tighter supply next year, which could see prices moving the right way for farmers. As always, cautious optimism is called for, but it is a good place to start 2015.

In the meantime, from all at EBLEX, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Beefing up the Christmas Menu

With the Christmas tree now up and decorated and present shopping underway, many people’s attention will be turning to their Christmas dinner menu.

Whilst turkey still takes the Christmas dinner crown, statistics suggest that a number of consumers are turning to beef this festive season, with alternatives featuring classics like beef wellington, through to modern favourites like organic ribs. According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, the amount of beef purchased over the last three months has slowly been increasing in the lead up to the Christmas period.

There are growing numbers of Christmas diners who are looking for slightly more adventurous recipes to impress guests at the table. Part of the appeal of having beef on the Christmas dinner plate is that there is such a variety of ways to cook it.

To help drive consumers towards beef Denise Spencer-Walker, our resident food advisor, has put together Roasting: A Culinary Christmas Story, a collation of all her top tips and recipes for using beef as the turkey alternative. Some of the must-try dishes include festive roast beef with cranberry and red onion relish.  For those catering for smaller numbers there is the beef mini roast is coated in caraway seeds and garlic crust.

Though the culinary pinnacle of December might take place on the 25th, with all family dinners, Christmas parties and festive catch ups, the entire month is filled with good, hearty food. This is perhaps why the sale of stewing cuts has been particularly prominent, almost doubling over the last quarter, reflecting an increased demand at this time of year. Our trade marketing team has been supporting butchers in capitalising on this seasonal trend through the ‘Slowly Does It’ campaign. The most recent phase of the campaign saw the launch of the Winter Point of Sale (POS) Kit.

The POS kit is packed with useful marketing materials, designed to showcase a range of beef and lamb cuts to customers during the winter season. Materials included in the kit have been produced for use at different stages throughout the colder months.  The first part of the kit, the ‘Slowly Does It Winter Essentials’, promotes a range of added value beef and lamb cuts that are ideal for slow cooking and use in casseroles and stews.

The casserole, stewing and braising category has been one of particular focus this financial quarter. We conducted extensive product analysis and consumer research to establish what consumer attitudes are towards these types of dishes, and how they can be encouraged to regularly incorporate them into their meal repertoires.

The results of the research found that, whilst there are issues around product consistency and cooking instructions, casseroles and stews have retained their image of being tasty, hearty family dinners. The findings have been collated into a report, Casserole Revival, which is available online now.

Whatever is on the dinner table this Christmas the options are certainly meaty, and going into the New Year we will continue to capitalise on trends and consumer preferences to drive and promote beef and lamb sales.  

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Postgraduate seminar showcases young scientific talent

Developing young talent and encouraging new ways of thinking is vital in any industry and in agriculture, where the age profile is known for being high, this takes on an even greater importance.

That’s the reason why EBLEX’s research and development team supports a number of studentships each year, as part of the broader AHDB studentship programme, with the aim of making sure that the next generation of farm advisers and scientists is waiting in the wings.

Typically, three EBLEX-funded student projects are started each year, normally with a three-year funding agreement, resulting in there being nine full-time EBLEX students at any one time. Where appropriate, these are jointly funded with other divisions of AHDB or the other UK red meat levy organisations.

With the students being located all around England, opportunities for them to meet with their peers are limited, which is why the annual livestock postgraduate seminar provides a valuable opportunity for them to integrate with other students and share their progress during the previous year.

The event, which this year took place in Kenilworth on Tuesday 10th December, involved all the AHDB livestock divisions (EBLEX, BPEX and DairyCo), together with Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

All the students whose projects are funded (or part-funded) by those organisations have the opportunity to take part, with a total of 39 presenting over two days. The students who are in their final year are judged by a panel and the winner presented with an award for best presentation.

Among the EBLEX-funded final year students were Selin Cooper and Emma Monaghan, both from the University of Warwick, and both investigating elements of mastitis in sheep. Emma presented on how bacteria in sheep udders changes pre and post-mastitis, while Selin talked about identifying different types of bacteria.

The last EBLEX-funded final year student to present Rory Shaw, from Bangor University, who spoke for a final time on his PhD looking at the use of real-time in situ nitrogen sensors to enhance sustainability and reduce costs in livestock systems.

While these projects may seem far removed from the working life of the average beef and sheep farmer, having a healthy research pipeline is essential for EBLEX to achieve its aim of helping the beef and sheep meat supply chain become more efficient. And ensuring that some of these research projects are carried out by those just setting out on their carrier means that these efforts can continue in the years to come.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Video proving a useful tool on the farm

In livestock farming, the word ‘viral’ normally instils fear for animal health. But in this era where the internet has seeped into every aspect of our lives, even the term ‘viral’ has gone digital.

Video has become an important internet tool, as organisations are able to share content with audiences all around the world almost instantly. Here at EBLEX we recognise how valuable this could be to farmers, and earlier this year introduced EBLEX TV, a free online channel which allows us to share video content with the industry.

Easily the most popular videos that we have produced to date are our ‘how to’ videos, which show industry experts demonstrating the best-practice methods of delivering everything from ram MOTs to body-condition scoring and preparing for lambing.

They are useful because farmers are able to watch them either just before or while they are carrying out their management tasks, and can pause, rewind or re-watch the videos as necessary.

Also popular are videos that contain industry experts delivering updates on the market and the industry. Our market intelligence senior analyst, Debbie Butcher, is a regular contributor, and EBLEX sector director Nick Allen finds it a useful way of communicating with farmers too.

The emergence of smartphones and tablets means that many people are walking around with access to EBLEX TV in their pocket, meaning the resource is rarely more than a couple of clicks away. We are aware of the issue that some farmers face with poor internet connectivity in rural areas, and have started developing a solution to that. From early 2015, a selection of the videos will be available on the EBLEX mobile app, which is free to download. Users will be able to download the videos that are relevant to them onto their phone or tablet when they are near a Wi-Fi or other internet connection, and then watch them later without the need to be online.

As farming is such a seasonal industry, much of the content on EBLEX TV reflects that, even though it is available all year round. For example, earlier this year we worked with wholecrop expert Andrew Strzelecki to produce eight videos that demonstrate how farmers can identify the right time to harvest wholecrops, including spring barley, wheat and oats. There was only a small window to get the timing right so that the contents of the crop-heads had the right texture and consistency, but the finished videos should prove useful to farmers across the country year-on-year from now on.

We welcome any suggestions for content that you may have. It could be a ‘how-to’ video that you want to see, or a story that you want to share with the farming community. Share them with us by email and we’ll get in touch.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to receive notifications when new videos are added.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A simple but effective approach to scab

There were many inspiring speakers at this year's Sheep Health and Welfare Conference all discussing safety in terms of disease.
The Sheep Health and Welfare Group (SHAWG), which ran the event, meet collaboratively to address relevant sheep-related health and welfare issues. Defra and AHVLA use SHAWG to discuss proposed initiatives and provide feedback on surveillance related matters, documentation and programmes that (potentially) have an impact at farm level.
There was plenty of stimulating discussion throughout the day and the last speaker, Joe Henry, was really interesting. He discussed how the approach his veterinary practice has taken with regard to scab has been successful in terms of control.
Joe practices in Northumberland, a large sheep production area, and the problem of scab in the region was a common one. Regular re-infection is costly for farmers, but when it is a disease that can be successfully treated, it is unnecessary.

With that in mind, Joe’s practice developed a five-stage approach that minimised the risk of re-infection.
The five staged approach is pretty simple…
  • Veterinary diagnosis– this is an absolute must to ensure the right condition is being treated
  • Tell all neighbours– they will be affected by your disease status and need to be involved in the treatment programme
  • Have a meeting –all neighbours are invited together with the vets to discuss the plan for treatment
  • Appoint a chairman– this is always a farmer, they will take control of the coordination of treatment
  • Co-ordinate treatment– all treatment of all sheep must take place within a two week window
The secret of the initiative’s success was in ensuring the local farming community worked together to combat any outbreak of scab. By treating not just the infected farm’s flock, but the surrounding flocks as well, the path to further spread is stopped.
In order for the plan to be successful all farmers must engage and to date Joe’s never had a farmer refuse to treat their flock.
And the way his team go about organising it is the key to the project’s success.
Once a farmer reports an incidence of scab to the vet, all neighbouring farmers are invited to a meeting at the local village hall, for them all to sit together and discuss the situation and the impact of further spread.
Joe highlights the importance of killing every single mite, outlines the cost of disease and re-infection and also the treatment options available.
A farmer is elected as the chairperson so that someone who knows the local area is assigned to take responsibility for the implementation of the treatment plan. In order to be effective every farmer must treat all of their sheep within a two-week window. If treatment occurs outside this window or it is not administered properly there is potential for re-infection and the whole process would have to be repeated.
Nothing about this plan is complex, but it works.
It has been carried out for every case of scab the practice has encountered, and they’ve seen the incidence of it drop considerably.
From being an endemic on their patch it is now an occasional problem, mainly thanks to a few feral sheep.
The initiative is an example of how the farming community can work together to tackle a problem head-on and everyone at the conference was pretty impressed.
As Joe said, it’s a no-brainer!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Why the China prize adds up for beef and lamb

China is all about big numbers. The population is 1.357 billion (2013 figures). 20.7 million are estimated to live in Beijing. In the capital’s largest residential district live more than seven million people. Getting the Metro from there into the city in rush hour, it will take you 40 minutes to queue to get on a packed train – despite the fact they arrive at a rate of one per minute.

Each year in China, 32 million people give up farming and become consumers – and this means more and more people are moving into the middle class, categorised as those spending $10 a day or more. This may not sound like much, but it in terms of additional purchasing power, it is massive. And the wealthier people become, the more they indulge more expensive tastes, including meat. Specifically, beef and lamb, including the fifth quarter. These cuts may seem to be the cheap ones to us, but they are more highly regarded in the Far East meaning that as standards of living rises, so does the demand for fifth quarter products.
There has been a lot of talk about access to the Chinese market for English beef and lamb for some time now. It was the topic of a presentation, for discussion and for a levy payer question at our recent annual conference. Access remains some way off – but it essential we continue working towards it and driving things forward. It will bring rewards for each and every beef and lamb producer and processor.

There was evidence of just how there demand is growing for our products at the FHC China event, in Shanghai, last week. The AHDB red meat export team helped organise a stand for red meat traders and exporters and, while the actual business being done was on pig meat products, there were repeated questions about when beef and lamb would be available and what more can we do to make it happen. The demand is clearly there, as if this needed any validation.

As early as 2003, BPEX identified the Chinese market as offering significant opportunities for export growth. Negotiations with China started in earnest in 2005. An inspection visit to the UK took place in 2009 and trade finally opened in 2011. This market has now become invaluable to the pig sector. Traders estimate the added value of the Chinese market is between 20p and 40p per kilo for pig meat. It is well on its way to being worth £50 million a year to the English pig sector.

We cannot make direct comparisons with pig meat because market dynamics are different but the trend is the same: with market access to China we will be able to sell parts of beef cattle and sheep we have no domestic market for to a growing consumer population with a rising appetite for beef and lamb products. As the standard of living rises, people are trading up from cheaper chicken and pork products to beef and lamb, and it is the fifth quarter products that potentially hold greater value there than the cuts we would purchase.

Of course, negotiations inevitably have both a technical and political dimension and this always has to be factored into the time it takes to reach agreements. This is true for all the markets we deal with and China is no different.
The process itself is slow anyway, and high level diplomatic support from the UK Government continues to be vital. However, the investment is worth it for all parties concerned and will ultimately lead to betters returns for processors and producers.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Online opportunities for beef and lamb sales

In recent years the way we shop has been transformed as retailers continue to develop new ways of offering convenience to consumers. This has had an effect on most products, including beef and lamb.

In 2012, Brits were the biggest online shoppers in the developed world, with six out of ten adults shopping online. The ‘weekly big shop’, a staple part of many a household routine for years, has been replaced by home deliveries and the emergence of supermarket express stores, which encourage buying little and often.

Earlier this year, the EBLEX trade marketing team commissioned a survey which found that turnover from online ordering from butchers is expected to rise by 275% in five years – yet only one in three butcher’s shops has a company website, and only a quarter of those have an online ordering facility. This presents a huge opportunity for forward-thinking butchers, but not everyone agrees that ordering meat online is what consumers want.

At the EBLEX 2014 annual conference, which took place recently, Waitrose’s agricultural manager, Duncan Sinclair, said that although the potential and appetite for online shopping was huge, many consumers still prefer to see and feel the meat that they want to eat before buying it. Many butchers will agree that this hands-on shopping experience is valued by their customers, but new buying experiences are continuing to surface.

Waitrose agricultural manager, Duncan Sinclair, at the 2014 annual conference
One example is the flash sale, an online trend which emerged in France but is fast making waves over here. The format is simple; consumers sign up to become members of a private buying club, and in doing so are eligible to buy goods on offer from the flash sale website. These goods are usually designer, high-end products and brands that are hugely discounted for the purposes of the sale. The brands are happy to provide their goods because only the private members get to see the discounted prices. This means that the sale prices are not splashed all over the internet, avoiding any damage to the reputation of these high-end brands.

Although initially this format was used for clothes and household goods, traders are experimenting with food items too. One of the biggest flash sale websites in France is Vente PrivĂ©e, which translates literally as ‘private sale’ and has an impressive eighteen million members across eight European countries. The EBLEX French office is working with them to look at options for getting English beef and lamb out to the wider French market through that vehicle.

Regardless of how people buy, it is important that producers continue to offer a product that will appeal to consumers and fits the target market specification. EBLEX national selection specialist, Steve Powdrill, recently touched on this in a video about the impact of over-fat lambs (below). He highlighted the point that if people have a bad dining experience with lamb, such as ending up with a lot of  fat on their plate, then they’re not likely to buy it next time they are shopping for their groceries – however they choose to do it. It is only by producing the best meat we can and utilising a wide range of marketing channels that we can work to improve sustainability of the beef and sheep meat supply chains.    

Thursday, 6 November 2014

EBLEX Annual Conference focuses on responding to volatility

Dealing with volatility and putting the customer first were two of the overriding themes of the EBLEX Annual Conference, which took place at Stoneleigh Park on Tuesday (4th November).

A full house at the EBLEX Annual Conference
The inspiring and thought-provoking event, which attracted around 200 producers and representatives of the beef and lamb supply chain from around the country, saw a range of speakers address the audience with some uncompromising messages around how to minimise the impact of volatility and make the most of current opportunities.

After an introduction from EBLEX chairman John Cross, Waitrose agriculture manager Duncan Sinclair took to the podium and spoke about the retailer perspective on current market conditions.

His messages around the value of integrated supply chains and his honest appraisal of what is (and isn’t) working for the retailer provided an interesting insight. Of note was the huge rise in internet sales experienced by Waitrose, up 40 per cent in 2013, a phenomenon which the red meat sector can’t afford to ignore (and the fact that they give away one million cups of coffee a week to loyalty card holders!).

Michael Sondergaard took examples from the pig industry
Duncan was followed by Michael Sondergaard, supply chain director for Tulip, who presented on the impact of China. While access to this market is not yet a reality for the UK beef and sheep industry, Michael’s presentation gave a practical overview of how to trade with China and took examples from the pig industry to illustrate the value of the potential prize. The audience were stunned by the figure that every hour, all year round, two container-loads of pork are being sent to China by Danish Crown alone.

The final speaker for the morning session was Allan Wilkinson, HSBC’s head of agriculture. Looking at the beef industry in the context of the wider global picture, Allan gave some very pertinent advice on how farm businesses can improve their performance and ensure they’re able to survive the rollercoaster of volatility.

The morning question and answer panel
The morning session was rounded off with a question and answer panel, after which delegates got to taste the beef and lamb mini roasts which are at the heart of EBLEX’s autumn marketing campaign.

The first presentation of the afternoon was from Dunbia’s head of agriculture, Jonathan Birnie, who looking at the importance of improving relationships in farming. Citing examples from his travels as a Nuffield scholar, Jonathan succinctly explained how to go about implementing change within a farm business.
The key take out from his presentation was that improving performance isn’t rocket science, it’s rather the aggregation of lots of small details.

Representing the final link of the supply chain, beef farmer and EBLEX board member James Evans then talked about how he’s made changes on his own farm to ensure they are better equipped to meet the demands of the market.

 EBLEX director Nick Allen then addressed delegates, giving an outlook for the sector and summarising what had been heard during the day. With similar themes resonating throughout many of the presentations, Nick summed up the key message by saying there’s no silver bullet to prevent volatility – we have to look at how we can make a difference within our individual businesses and work together as an industry.

EBLEX chairman John Cross addressing the audience
Following another question and answer session, John Cross gave his closing remarks for the final time as EBLEX chairman before he stands down next March. Giving his thoughts on the mix of volatility and global opportunity, he stated that knowledge is key and concluded that we're now working in a much wider world which offers great opportunities for those who seek them.

Those who attended the event certainly left with plenty of food for thought and practical ideas that can be implemented in their own businesses. Those who weren’t able to make it can get a flavour of the day by viewing the presentations and the videos that are now available online.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Breeders’ survey launched to add value to beef and sheep industry

To help farmers get the best possible return from their business, EBLEX operates a number of knowledge-transfer projects which allow us to share best practice with them.

These initiatives go through various stages, but most start life with our research and development (R&D) team and are born out of the need for a solution to an emerging problem.

In order to accumulate the information that we use for these projects, we need to engage with people from throughout the supply chain, and our latest hunt for information, which is currently in the R&D stage, is aimed at beef and sheep breeders.

As part of a national genetic improvement survey, EBLEX has commissioned a 20 minute online questionnaire which is designed to help evaluate the impact of breed improvement on the UK beef and sheep industries.

Genetic improvement has an important role in the industry, a message which EBLEX is keen for producers to listen to. The questionnaire which has been commissioned forms part of a wider review into the way in which resources are used in this area. The benefits to the industry of genetic improvement were last estimated in 2006/07 and since then there has been an increase in emerging technologies.

Therefore the review aims to assess whether or not the current allocation of resources is the most appropriate, and also explore different models that may offer better delivery of breed improvement in the future. Other goals include quantifying the financial benefits of genetic improvement in the sector, reviewing the delivery of breed improvement services and identifying opportunities to improve uptake.
Since the questionnaire went live three days ago (Monday, 27th October), 72 breeders have responded. This is a positive start and hopefully means there will continue to be a high response rate. Of course, online surveys like this are always affected by the usual challenges that poor internet connection in rural areas present, and so alternative plans are in place.

Anyone signed up to Signet Breeding Services, the part of EBLEX which provides genetic evaluations to livestock producers to help them identify sheep and cattle with superior breeding potential, will receive a paper version of the questionnaire in the post soon, and for those that aren’t signed up, a PDF version is available to print off, complete and return.

It is important that as many breeders as possible take part in the survey so that the findings are well informed when they are calculated and fed back into the industry to help the beef and sheep meat supply chain to become more efficient.

The questionnaire will be online until November 28th this year, and once collated the results will be used to deliver change to the industry at the earliest opportunity.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

EBLEX at SIAL to wave the flag for Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb from England

Over the past week, one of the biggest food trade fairs in the world took place in Paris, and EBLEX was there to make sure that visitors from across the globe were hearing about high quality beef and lamb from England.

SIAL is a major agri-food event which hosts 6,300 exhibitors and welcomes 150,000 high profile visitors, and is held at the Parc des Expositions just outside the French capital. The EBLEX stand was designed in the theme of a traditional English pub, and served as a meeting platform for the meat industry to greet and do business with new and existing customers, and sample some Quality Standard Mark (QSM) beef and lamb of course.

Remi Fourrier, EBLEX’s French export manager, said that providing this hospitality for exporters was vital: “Some of these guys that do business together only meet once a year in Paris here at SIAL, or at the other huge trade fair, Anuga, in Cologne. A lot of business is consolidated and developed at these shows and it is massively important that EBLEX has a presence.”

The stand also showcased some of the new products and packaging available to French consumers, cutting manuals to share expertise and a demonstration of a tablet and smartphone app which demonstrates all carcase cuts, including the lesser-utilised fifth quarter. During the show, which launched on Sunday, 19th October and finishes today (Thursday, 23rd October), the Defra Secretary of State, Liz Truss, visited the EBLEX stand to talk to exporters as part of a whistle-stop tour of the show. She took the opportunity to meet with members of the UK trade press and answer their questions.

Other news from SIAL included an announcement, made on the EBLEX stand on Monday, which lamb producers will be pleased to hear about. In a bid to encourage more people across six European countries to cook with lamb, a €7.7million campaign is set to be launched thanks to a co-promotion deal that we have secured along with the EU, Ireland and France.

The three-year programme will see an annual investment of €1.5m (£1.19m) from EBLEX, Board Bia and Interbev matched by the EU, across England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark – all markets which have been identified as having significant potential.

The announcement at SIAL is timely. As the message about eating lamb is rolled out, the seeds of business that were planted at SIAL will begin to grow.  When Anuga takes place in Germany in October 2015, EBLEX will be there once again to share expert knowledge and give a platform to exporters from England, so that their produce continues to have a huge presence on the world stage.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Reviewing how we spend your levy money

Making levy payers aware of the full breadth of activity that EBLEX does to benefit the beef and sheep industry is one of the most difficult jobs faced by our communications team.

There are an estimated 60,000 beef and sheep producers spread around England, including many in remote upland areas. All of them work long hours and are field-based in the most literal sense of the word, which can make communicating with them a challenge.

Nearly 50 per cent of those 60,000 are signed up to the Better Returns Programme (BRP), our skills and knowledge transfer initiative through which we run events and provide practical information to help beef and sheep farmers identify where they can make business improvements .

Even these producers who are more switched on to EBLEX are unlikely to be aware of everything we do. Our consumer marketing activity, for example, is designed to target groups such as mothers, who are still responsible for most of the cooking and grocery shopping, and students, the next generation of beef and lamb consumers. And our work on the export front necessarily takes place far away from England’s green and pleasant land, in places as diverse and far flung as Inner Mongolia and the Ivory Coast.

However, as EBLEX is responsible for investing over £15 million of levy income to the benefit of the industry, we have a duty to do as much as we can to communicate what we’re doing to as many English beef and sheep farmers as possible. For the more financially-minded, this information is contained in the AHDB Annual Review and Accounts. However, we appreciate that most busy farmers don’t have the time to plough through a necessarily-weighty document and for this reason we produce an annual review, which gives a snapshot of our key achievements over the previous financial year.

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This publication gives some context to the numbers, providing an insight into the range of activities we undertake on behalf of levy payers and also an idea of the return on investment our work generates. For example, the £432,000 we invested in our ongoing campaign to open additional non-EU markets to UK beef and lamb is a significant sum, however hopefully the £9.4 million increase in the value of non-EU sheep meat exports in 2013 amply demonstrates the value of that work.

The report also illustrates the value of some of our development work, such as the £67m potential growth in annual lamb retail sales and £11.3m potential growth in annual beef retail sales as a result of the £55,000 invested by our trade marketing team in producing new cuts to meet consumer demand in both retail and foodservice.

We aren’t relying on the annual review alone to communicate this information. Our team also have thousands of interactions with farmers around the country each year, but hopefully those who do read it find it a useful guide to how their levy money is being spent each year.

Copies of the annual review will be sent to all members of the EBLEX BRP with the autumn bulletin. A pdf is available on our website, or additional hard copies can be requested by calling 0870 242 1394.