Meat exporters urged to see France as home market

UK meat exporters need a shift in mindset when it comes to supplying the French market, according to a leading expert.

Speaking at Sial last week, Remi Fourier, general manager of AHDB Meat Services in France, said UK companies needed to start thinking of France as a home market, rather than an export market.

"With all the work that has been done here, I do not think we're an export market any longer," he said. "We're simply an extension of the British market and exporters need to think of it as an addition account, much like they would consider supplying a retailer like Sainsbury's. That's where we need to be."

He said he would like to see UK exporters get more committed which in turn would garner more loyalty within the French market. He added that a further key to success in the French market was strong branding and this was backed up by Eblex's success with the St George brand on lamb, as well as its Agneau Presto (quick lamb) campaign, which had seen lamb sales turn a corner on the Continent.

The success of the St George branding on lamb would now see the promotion carried over onto British beef, said Fourier.

The clear branding is being used on the front of packs, featuring the Eblex quality mark, and promotional activity has seen special chill cabinets rolled into supermarkets across France to focus on UK product.

Fourier said investment has also been made to promote the brands on in-store displays, demonstrations and with a short film developed to be shown on plasma screens at the checkouts of some supermarkets.

"We're working to develop as many brands as possible. People say too many brands are confusing, but I don't believe that. Branding is the only way to get the products into the shops, if it captures the interest of consumers, then the retailer is trapped," he added.

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