Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A look back at AHDB Beef & Lamb 2016....

As we near the end of an eventful year, we’ve taken the opportunity to showcase AHDB Beef & Lamb’s “best bits” from 2016 and take a look forward to 2017.

The year began with incoming Sector Strategy Director, Laura Ryan, starting her first full year in her new role by outlining her aspirations for the year.
Laura emphasised the significance of the consumer as she highlighted supply chain efficiency, increased market opportunities and quality assurance as areas of focus for the year ahead.

Later that month, it was standing room only as representatives of AHDB Beef & Lamb and the NFU got together for the first Northern Beef & Sheep Conference in several years in North Yorkshire. High-profile guest speakers joined representatives from the NFU and AHDB to discuss the challenges facing the industry.

Given the pressures on the farmgate price, encouraging sales of beef and lamb dominated this session. Laura Ryan talked in depth about the work currently being done to improve product consistency and outlined some new product development initiatives.
In March, AHDB was the only overseas livestock exhibitor at Europe’s biggest agricultural event, the Salon International d’Agriculture (SIA) in Paris. France represents 50% of the export market for UK lamb, making it our single most important export market for sheep meat.

The event was a great opportunity for AHDB Beef & Lamb to reaffirm its place as a key supplier to the French market.

On the other side of the Channel, Great British Beef Week, which takes place every year around St George’s day (23rd April), is a regular date in our calendar. The event, which was thought up by the Ladies in Beef, has been running since 2011. This year, AHDB Beef & Lamb supported the week with the “Beef up your Butty” campaign, designed to encourage consumers to experiment with their roast beef leftovers.

The Brexit vote dominated the news in June and our annual Meat Export Conference on 29 June gave us the opportunity to start the dialogue on how to maximise opportunities in the new political landscape. More than 100 delegates heard about developments in international markets and implications for the meat trade in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote.

Love Lamb week lit up September. The campaign, which was developed by Yorkshire sheep farmer Rachel Lumley, is a great opportunity for the whole industry to get involved and help consumers understand that lamb is versatile, tasty and easy-to-cook, as well as educating people about our sheep production systems.

September also marked a key milestone for our RamCompare project, as we began to see the first results from the industry scheme which aims to drive forward genetic improvement in the sheep industry. Early analysis has shown a pleasing amount of variation, with some sires excelling and progeny growing quickly.

Our popular mini roast adverts returned to the small screen for the third year in October. For 2016, the focus was on young couples, aged 25 to 34, using online activity, press advertising and PR to persuade them to try the mini roast as the perfect date-night meal, enabling them to spend quality time together during the week.

As 2016 drew to a close we were looking to the future, as our new three-year corporate strategy was put out to consultation at the beginning of December. The strategy, entitled ‘Inspiring Success’, maps out the long-term areas of focus for the English beef and lamb sector. These address the specific challenges arising from the need for a more consistent product to meet changing consumer demands.

Key stakeholders found out more about the strategy and heard from some inspiring speakers at our Stakeholder Seminar on 8 December. The event included presentations from David Wagstaff of the Happy Egg Company, who gave an insight into creating an award-winning brand, and Paul Clayton from the US Meat Export Federation, who gave a global view of the beef trade from the US perspective.

Hopefully that gives you a flavour of what we’ve been doing in the last 12 months – you can find plenty more information on all of our projects and events on our website.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas. We’ll be back in January for what will certainly be another busy year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

An insight into the 21st World Meat Conference in Uruguay

I attended the 21st World Meat Conference which was held in Uruguay in November, it was a great opportunity to hear from meat experts from across the globe.

Getting an insight into Uruguay and its meat industry also proved extremely beneficial. Beef production is a way of life and nationals eat around 57kg per person per year, this compares to the UK’s consumption of around 18kg per person per year.

Uruguayan cattle mainly consist of Hereford and Angus breeds, all of which are primarily grass-fed and produce consistent, high-quality beef.

Despite their high domestic consumption, exports remain a key focus, with 45 per cent of home-grown beef heading to China and plans to expand further on to the Japanese market.

Sheep numbers stand at approximately seven million. Interestingly, the sheep kill appears very volatile, with a range of one to two million per annum in the recent past. The reasons for such disparate supply include stock theft, predation and the fact that sheep are viewed as a short-term investment rather than a long-term operation.

Key challenges for both their sheep and beef markets include maintaining and growing livestock numbers as well as reducing international tariff barriers. In the UK we have fragmented breeding flock and herds that limit producers' ability to improve their competitiveness.

At the same time, changes in the consumer’s habits mean demand for traditional beef and lamb cuts are falling, affecting all parts of the supply chain. In light of Brexit we face a somewhat uncertain future and will have to look to other countries, outside of the EU, to discover new ways of trading.

First on the agenda was the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Marketing Workshop, which provided an opportunity for each country to present key projects from their home market. There were 45 delegates, representing 11 countries.

Topics covered included education, positioning our industry and storytelling. There were some extremely impactful ideas, for example Beef and Lamb New Zealand told the conference how they were teaching consumers to cook beef and lamb with a free magazine – to date 335,000 copies have been distributed.

Our head of marketing, Nick White, presented "Keema: one recipe, ten dishes", which has been one of our key consumer marketing campaigns for 2016. The initiative aims to introduce consumers to lamb mince, with the view that once they became confident with cooking the mince using different flavours they would go on to cook with other cuts of lamb.

I presented during the ‘Positioning our Industry’ part of the day and talked about encouraging women into the meat industry and the great career opportunities it can bring. In 2015 I set up ‘Meat Business Women’ a professional networking group for women working in the meat industry.

The second part of the workshop was dedicated to three challenging areas for the meat sector – health and nutrition, sustainability and animal welfare. We broke into three groups, each discussing one of the topics and looking at how negative messages can be switched to being positive. For example, when there is negative publicity about the consumption of red meat, there is an opportunity to counteract these claims with positive health messages about the nutritional value of meat.

Following on from the marketing workshop, the main World Meat Conference (WMC) was attended by 750 delegates from 38 countries, representing commercial companies, trade associations and levy boards. Various meat committees met and talked about their experience of current factors affecting meat production including governance, consumer attitudes, sustainability and global trends.

Overall, attending the workshop and conference gave me the opportunity to extensively network with key contacts and helped me understand where we fit in terms of the global meat marketplace. I found it a fascinating experience and now have more of an understanding of how we can work with others in a global marketplace.