Our own research from a recent AHDB survey among levy payers shows that, across all sectors, face-to-face contact remains important. It is a key method of us conveying messages and gives producers and growers the chance to interact with us directly, raise concerns and learn more about the breadth of our activity.
Events are an important part of our knowledge exchange work within the beef and lamb sector, though the Better Returns Programme (BRP). We held 180 events from 1st April 2015 to the end of March 2016, with nearly 3,000 producer attendees, 60 per cent of whom changed a working practice or adapted something as a result of attending the event.
Exports is another area where we put a large focus on face-to-face engagement through events. Ensuring that beef and lamb have a strong presence at key trade shows in countries where we currently have access is important for stimulating demand. In those countries where we are still working on market access, attendance at the trade shows helps build a market for our products, which in turn helps the negotiation process, potentially unlocking markets worth millions to beef and sheep meat producers and processors.
This week we have had a presence at a different type of event that remains equally important in ensuring penetration in domestic households and foodservice outlets to support sales at home. The Food and Drink Expo, at Birmingham’s NEC, is one of the country’s best known events of its kind. Incorporating Foodex and the Farm Shop and Deli Show also, it is a one-stop-shop for anyone in retail and/or foodservice seeking innovation and excellence.
For the first time, AHDB Beef & Lamb coordinated a cross-AHDB approach to maximise our messaging to visitors, with the Pork and Potato sectors having a presence on the stand while other sectors were represented in the design and styling of the stand. Designed to look like a farm shop, it gave a place for our staff to meet people to discuss anything from sourcing, to Quality Standard Marks, training and recipe solutions.
Our master butcher, Martin Eccles, was able to talk to visitors about our new cut development, to maximise returns from the carcase, and Dick Van Leeuven was showcasing the extremely successful Meat Education Programme (MEP), launched just a few months ago but already seeing great take-up in the industry.
Our stand included a tasting kitchen so we were able to prepare lamb keema Shepherd’s Pie and thin cut steak sandwiches for visitors to try, seamlessly linking our consumer promotion and recipe work with that of the trade development team, working with retailers and foodservice outlets.
Footfall at the stand was impressive and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We can now take this and look at our approach to shows of all types over the coming season, no matter where they are in the world, to ensure we maximise engagement with stakeholders and potential customers, and bang the drum for beef and lamb.
You can find out more about our forthcoming events here.