Friday, 27 June 2014

The importance of France to our beef and sheep exports

Global demand for high quality UK beef and lamb is well documented, with EBLEX working alongside Government and other organisations such as UKTI to help secure access to new markets.

However, well-established markets and their significance shouldn’t be underestimated. A case in point is France – specifically the work of our team, based across the Channel, who work to ensure our produce is clearly identified with focus on its high quality and reaches as many consumers as possible.

Based at the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) office in Fontainebleau, Carole Rivière, Josée Hofstetter and Catherine Jeffery, under the leadership of export manager Rémi Fourrier, carry out a range of activities to promote Quality Standard beef and lamb to French consumers.

Typically, this includes trade advertising, events, demonstrations and information in supermarkets, field marketing activities and consumer communication. When you stop to think about it, and the historical issues there have been with French farmers defending their own products, this is no small challenge.

Why such focus on France then? Simply, it’s a vitally important export market, particularly for sheep meat. France is by far the biggest destination for UK exports of sheep meat. They are lovers of sheep meat but only around 36 per cent self-sufficient so rely on imports. In 2013, it accounted for 52 per cent of our export market for sheep meat, taking 54,000 tonnes of product from the UK – an increase of three per cent on the year. The value of those exports was £214.5 million – an increase of eight per cent on the year.

The Fontainebleau team are well placed to maintain French demand for our product. For example, the website showcases an array of features such as where to find products, nutritional value and specialist cutting guides for professionals in the industry. Coupled with the team’s Facebook page, providing recipe ideas and images and video from key events, the French office provides a comprehensive information and networking service for both consumers and industry professionals.

Of course, there’s nothing like showcasing your product on the ground and Carole has established an enviable network of contacts with butchers in all major supermarket chains to help promote sales of lamb. This includes in-store tasting and electronic information stands showcasing recipes to potential customers. Last year, for example, demonstrations were coordinated in 143 supermarkets throughout France. This continues to play a key role in winning the hearts and minds of French consumers.

But it’s not just all about sheep meat. The French team also coordinates the Rosbifs Club where members, all lovers of beef, include chefs, journalists and other industry professionals taking part in events and promoting our beef to the French market. The club’s Facebook page also highlights the club’s activities in promoting our beef to French consumers.

As with most things, you tend to get out what you put into them. Access to new markets is clearly important as the UK maintains its position as a true global player in the international meat market. Sustaining and cultivating markets once open demands a concerted effort and dedication. The example set in France is an excellent barometer to gauge how to maximise the potential for exports of UK beef and lamb.

Further information on the Rosbifs Club can be found by visiting More details about AHDB’s French office can be found by visiting

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Prospects good for English lamb trade

Britain’s sheep producers have been enjoying a welcome period of good weather conditions, which has resulted in a good crop of high quality lambs on the ground.

This follows a terrible lambing season for many last year, when exceptionally bad weather had a significant impact on the 2013 lamb crop.
Currently, the prices that producers are getting for their lambs remain high and are at record levels for the time of year. From this point onwards, supplies onto the market will increase. Due to the good grass growing conditions, lambs seem to be coming forward earlier than in previous years.

This is a positive for UK consumers, who look set to benefit from a very high quality product and good value for money. As long as demand remains high, prices should remain robust for sheep producers. However, as ever, the message for producers looking to get the best returns is to market their animals at the right time – when they hit the spec processors are looking for.
Despite some anticipated increase in lamb supplies in the UK, and lacklustre trade in some parts of Europe, the world sheep meat market is set to remain tight, at least until the end of this year. The UK is a key player in the global market as the third largest importer and exporter. It also holds a dominant position in the European trade, being the largest producer of sheep meat and largest exporter of product. 

In summary, the current strengthening of the pound against the Euro does give some cause for concern, but there are plenty of reasons why the lamb market should not come under the same pressure as the beef price has in recent months. In fact, the market dynamics suggest the long terms prospects remain positive for both sheep meat and beef producers in England.

Further good news for English lamb producers, and hopefully a much-needed boost for beef producers’ morale, came in the form of David Cameron’s meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier this week, and the subsequent announcement that British beef and lamb could soon be heading to China.

The outcome of the Prime Minister’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart will not result in an overnight change to the industry, but it does indicate a major step forwards in negotiating market access to China for beef and lamb. This development follows years of work by EBLEX in conjunction with a number of other organisations to gain access to this potentially lucrative market.
The focus is not only on foreign markets though. It is vitally important to promote the sheep-meat-buying habit at home also. To encourage consumers to enjoy home-produced lamb, EBLEX has committed to a range of marketing activity, including a TV advertising campaign that will go out in September and the cook with keema initiative which encourages mums to experiment with lamb.

This year’s good conditions mean plenty of quality lamb will be available for dinner tables up and down the country in the coming months and we’re doing our best to make sure consumers take the opportunity to enjoy it.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Tri-nations competition to put British beef and lamb in the spotlight

Today marks the start of the World Cup, but it’s not just footballers that are lining up to show off their skills on the world stage, as British beef and lamb is set for a starring role in the coming weeks also.

With less than 30 days to go, the countdown to the Tri-Nations Butchers Challenge is well and truly on, and team GB have been practising hard to ensure they beat their Australian and New Zealand counterparts when the competition takes place at the Great Yorkshire Show on Thursday, 10 July.
The six-man team are heading to the Walter Smith butchers training facility, in Dudley, next Monday for what will be one of their final practice sessions. They will get to work on a side of beef and whole lamb carcase to craft a display that is original and creative. If you stop and think about that for a second, you realise that it is no mean feat. Turning an entire lamb and a half side of beef into a range of small, intricate cuts in just two hours requires not just skill, but strength and control too.

On the day of the contest, each team will be challenged to do this in two hours in front of a large audience. As well as being an opportunity for the national teams to exhibit their skills in meat preparation and presentation, it is also a chance for the butchers from ‘down under’ to work hands-on with British produce, and to see the end product that UK farmers work hard to perfect.
Last year the Kiwis won the title on their home soil, something that David Lishman, the British team captain, thinks will be advantageous for his side this time around because they won’t be limited by the amount of presentation material they can, or can’t, fit in their suitcase!

The teams are all keen to take bragging rights, and already the competition’s social media pages have become a hotbed of banter. Organisers are making sure plenty of information is available for all, and will be posting daily updates, news-flashes, facts, and figures to raise the profile of the event.
Everyone involved is hoping for a big turnout and all are welcome to watch the best of British, Australian and New Zealand butchers representing their countries at the Great Yorkshire Show.  If you happen to be there, make sure you swing by.

After all, there’s a lot at ‘steak’!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

EBLEX injects Samba style into cooking with beef and lamb

It won’t come as any surprise that the World Cup and, weather permitting, barbecue season are just around the corner.

Whether you’re a footy fan or not, you can’t have escaped the bombardment of news and information about Brazil over recent months and weeks. So, what better time to discover how to barbecue Brazilian-style with Quality Standard beef and lamb.

Marketing these ideas to the widest possible consumer audience is one of EBLEX’s key areas of work, helping stimulate demand for beef and lamb with innovative ideas on how to cook with it. And with a Samba step forward the EBLEX Quality Standard Meat Elite programme has swung into action.

Last week saw the first event kick-off the programme, with TV chef Andy Bates introducing national journalists to Brazilian BBQ Tapas and Brazilian-style barbecuing, as well as giving an insight into current trends and spices from Brazil. It follows a similar approach to the Rosbifs Club in France where chefs, journalists and other industry professionals across the Channel look at the most innovative ways of cooking with Quality Standard beef.
More than 20 journalists attended the Meat Elite event in Kensington, introduced by EBLEX’s Hugh Judd, where Andy demonstrated three recipes inspired by recent travels to Brazil. It included picanha roast portions with hazelnut salsa, spiced rustic lamb chunkies and tapas-style breaded brisket. EBLEX recipes featured at the event included barbecued steaks with lime, tomatoes and anchovies, lamb cutlets with creole mojo sauce and mini Anticuchos beef skewers.

Spiced rustic lamb chunkies
Why hold the event? While it’s hard to improve on a great product like QSM beef, lamb but there are always new and exciting ways to be explored on how to get the best out of it. Not only did the recent event introduce new ideas to journalists whose opinions ultimately influence the consumer, it highlighted how best to use cuts such as the picanha and lamb chunkies that may not have immediately leapt to mind beforehand.

So whether you’re planning on cooking up a spicy treat during the month-long festival of footy or just kicking back to enjoy what we hope will be a glorious summer, keep an eye out for more tips on cooking Brazilian-style and more great recipe ideas over the next couple of months.

For more recipe ideas visit