Wednesday, 6 January 2016

What's next for AHDB Beef & Lamb?

Laura Ryan was appointed AHDB Beef & Lamb sector strategy director on November 2. In her first blog post in her new role, she shares her aspirations for the sector and what’s in store for 2016.

As new years are all about new starts, looks and resolutions, I thought I would take this opportunity to properly introduce myself. However, though I am new to post, I am certainly no stranger to the meat and livestock industry.

My career in the sector actually began over 10 years ago. After completing my degree in Marketing and a masters in Management, I worked for a large butchery business in the North East of England where I launched new branded premium beef and lamb lines. I joined AHDB Beef & Lamb (formerly EBLEX) in 2007 as marketing executive before going on to be marketing manager for Quality Schemes and took on the Quality Standard Mark (QSM) scheme. The role taught me just how unique the beef and lamb supply chains in this country really are, and what a great story producers and processors have to tell.

However, we need to work see these supply chains continue to flourish. To make this a reality, we have identified two key areas of focus.

The first is to help the beef and lamb supply chain be more efficient through looking at cost reduction, increasing carcase utilisation, waste management and export market access. Both our regional and supply chain teams work hard to share this kind of expertise from within our organisation with our levy payers and stakeholders. This is something I know they will continue to do.

We also do some fantastic work on research and development (R&D) and knowledge transfer (KT). To get more farmers using and implementing our research and ideas, I want to make sure that we continue to evolve and adapt our communications to ensure our messages are timely and useful.  

The second focus is on adding value through improved market opportunities. Developing markets at home and abroad remains a key activity. We want to ensure beef and lamb are fit for purpose and suit modern consumer lifestyles. We will continue to work and engage with the red meat supply chain, from abattoirs to foodservice and retailers, to highlight the value and quality of home-grown beef and lamb. And to make sure we continue to stay ahead of eating trends, we will carry on looking at how new product development can ensure our industry is satisfying the modern day shopper, as well adding value to the whole carcase.

I know how important quality assurance schemes are in adding that value to the industry. The assurance message has an extremely important part to play in protecting our industry and positioning it as responsible and quality driven. AHDB Beef & Lamb will continue to drive awareness of Red Tractor and Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb to influence consumer choice. 

The customer, however, still remains king for us here and that’s why we will work to position beef and lamb as modern, versatile meal solutions that are healthy and nutritious through our consumer marketing programmes.

Ultimately, we want to provide our levy payers with the tools that allow them to make the most of the opportunities available – and they are best placed to identify what those are. We have been holding a number of open activity review meetings for levy payers, asking which levy-funded activities can help build better businesses. There are two more next week, so I would encourage you to attend one of the remaining dates if you can or fill in the online survey.

As we look ahead to the new, it is important to reflect on what we have achieved in the last 12 months. We continued to open markets across the globe, more than 2,000 producers attended at least one of our BRP knowledge transfer events this year to share best practices. Our social media presence continues to grow, with over 167,884 minutes of content watched on Beef and Lamb TV – our YouTube channel.

These are successes I want to see AHDB’s Beef & Lamb sector to build on and develop to ensure we fulfil the wider AHDB purpose to equip levy payers with independent, evidence-based information and tools to grow and become more competitive and sustainable.

Happy New Year to all of you!