AHDB announces team restructure plans

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has announced plans to restructure its exports, trade and consumer marketing teams as well as grow its presence abroad. 

It is hoped the restructure will create a “more agile and streamlined approach to consumer marketing campaigns, enhanced relationships with retailers and an export team ready to seize post-Brexit opportunities to open new markets”, as well as enable AHDB to achieve better value for money for farmers, growers and processors.

AHDB hopes the restructure will deliver savings in excess of £750,000 over two years, which it is intended to reinvest back into communications, events, online promotion, export and domestic marketing campaign activity. The restructure will be completed by April 2018. The proposals will also look to grow export work, with staff dedicated to building markets in the EU, Middle East/Africa and Asia-Pacific countries.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s chief officer for communications and market development, said: “AHDB export and marketing work is an important investment our farmers, growers and industry make through their levy, totalling around £16 million per year.

“We need to invest this money in the most efficient and effective way and, in a post-Brexit world, we need to be structured to deliver where we can make the most positive impact. AHDB has a clear, strategic priority of helping the industry understand what consumers will trust and buy. Our marketing work must be relevant to the consumer and delivered in a way that reaches them effectively, with investment in talented people to deliver digital, online and social media campaigns.”

She did warn that there may be job losses at the levy board.

“The proposed restructure is likely to see a small number of redundancies, but will also offer new opportunities. These include, among others, the creation of a new head of domestic marketing role, charged with delivering a single overarching consumer marketing offering for all of AHDB’s sectors. There will also be new roles in our digital and international events teams to proactively promote products at home and abroad.

“In addition, there will be new heads of export roles for the red meat sector, based on high-growth markets like Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East/Africa and, longer term, the Americas.”

The proposal for new AHDB exports roles in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific reflects a drive from the industry to open up new markets for British products outside the EU. The new roles follow on from the decision in 2015 to appoint Karen Morgan as the UK’s first Agriculture and Food Counsellor in China – a post funded by AHDB from its inception.

 “We recognise that change is always difficult, but we are committed to delivering a world-class service for our farmers, growers and industry,” added Watts. “By making some tough decisions, as we have already done in the recent past, we will have an export, trade and marketing team which is flexible, closely aligned and working to a common agenda.”

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