AHDB Beef & Lamb encourages dialogue with levy payers

Delegates from the agriculture industry gathered yesterday (3 November 2015) for AHDB Beef & Lamb’s annual conference, at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. 

AHDB chairman Peter Kendall began the conference by welcoming the guests and notifying delegates as to the purpose of the gathering. He highlighted the issues facing the industry and welcomed engagement between farmers and producers and the levy board.  

Speaking to Meat Trades Journal, he said: “I’ve looked at the attendee list and we need to get more producers here to try and see some of the work that’s being done. I’m always being criticised about the communication from the levy board to farmers and we need to find a way of getting more farmers, more producers and more processors to share their views about what the challenges are – and what we think some of the solutions might be.”

Kendall recognised that the organisation had received criticism over the summer months as a result of the price of lamb; however, he insisted that the levy board was working to overcome such obstacles, and that promotion must take a long-term strategic view.

“What we don’t want is for farmers to think they can wave a magic wand and for prices to suddenly jump up,” explained Kendall. “This organisation is about long-term planning, thinking, and delivering value for money.”

The morning session largely consisted of guest speakers highlighting the opportunity to build markets overseas.

Stan Phillips, agriculture counsellor for the US Embassy, recognised the possible opportunities for lamb to be exported to the USA. At the moment, the US does not allow beef and lamb to be imported from the UK, although negotiations are taking place that would allow access, should they be successful. According to the US Department of Agriculture, lamb consumption in the US is seeing an increase year-on-year, which could lead to overseas market opportunities for UK exporters.

Also speaking about global markets was Dave Harrison, Europe’s regional manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand. During his presentation, he told delegates that sheep meat exported from New Zealand to the UK had seen a recent increase of 6.4%, although frozen and chilled lamb exports had seen a 10% decrease. He believed this could largely be attributed towards less product being available in the supermarkets, but more being found in the foodservice sector.

The afternoon portion of the conference afforded AHDB Beef & Lamb the opportunity to communicate its promotional activities.

“The industry has got to work together to make beef and lamb fit for the modern-day consumer,” AHDB’s marketing director Nick Allen told Meat Trades Journal. He acknowledged that, whereas the consumer used to do one large weekly shop, they were now buying more on a day-to-day basis.

“The consumers are always changing. We’ve seen an extraordinary change over the last two or three years where the consumer is shopping two or three times a week.”

In order to help the public’s increasingly busy lifestyles, AHDB Beef & Lamb has developed a series of innovative initiatives and cuts of meat. The cannon of lamb, three-rack of lamb, and promoting roast dinners as a quick and simple midweek meal, are all on the levy board’s marketing agenda.

Allen took the opportunity to educate levy payers about how their payments are assisting in producing new developments. “It is important that beef and lamb producers know their money is going to be spent in the beef and lamb sector, even though we’ll be working closely with other sectors,” he concluded.

Some additional facts revealed by AHDB Beef & Lamb included:
•    A £9 million increase in potential sales value (per annum) of four muscles from beef carcases. This comes as a result of the organisation introducing non-traditional cutting methods and by making the most of innovative seam butchery techniques.
•    The total value of continuous research projects that the body is involved in that benefits the lamb and beef industries amounts to £2.6m.
•    There has been a 172% year-on-year increase in the value of beef offal exports to non-EU markets. These shipments rose 92% on the year at 18,285 tonnes.
•    2,800 levy payers currently subscribe to free-market information, which comes in the form of regular e-newsletters from AHDB Beef & Lamb’s market intelligence team.

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