Friday, 30 June 2017

How can social media boost your business?

In a series of social media blogs, Kate Nolan-Burgess, AHDB Social Media Content Executive, looks at how levy payers can benefit by integrating social media into their everyday business. In this first blog, Kate explains how AHDB uses social media to keep levy payers up to date.

“It's so important that British farmers and growers make the absolute most of the opportunities that social media presents to promote themselves and the wider industry!” – NFU Online



With more than three billion internet users – of which more than two billion have active social accounts – social media has become a powerful marketing tool, offering businesses valuable data  about their customers. At AHDB, social media is used by all of our teams and is a key tool to get our work recognised by a large audience.
So before we give you tips on improving your social media presence, let’s look at how we use social media and why.

We use our @AHDB_BeefLamb Twitter account to help us do three key things:

Connect with our audience –Twitter is a quick way to get information out in bitesize chunks. But to make sure it’s the right information, we keep an eye on how well our followers interact with the content we post – do they ‘like’ it? Are there conversations happening around it? This helps us understand the specific needs of our followers in order to provide content they truly want to see and read about.

Reach new audiences locally and globally   Social media makes it easy to connect with current customers and to seek out new audiences anywhere in the world. We’ve discovered experts through social media who can help us share information on their specialism, who we may not have found without social media platforms.

Improve customer service –  Social media functions in real time, so it gives us instant access to feedback and comments from our followers. They no longer need to go through lengthy processes to get in touch with us – we’re just one click away.

On a day to day basis the AHDB social media team will tweet and post content taken from across the AHDB accounts but the key to the success is the analysis. We make sure we look at engagement levels to check what content is performing well and not so well. This then influences our planning, so we’re always keeping an eye out for industry events and consumer campaigns that will help us promote AHDB as an organisation. But as well as having planned content, we must make sure we are reactive. We aim to get back to enquiries as soon as we can and respond to content that will ultimately help our producers in their farm businesses.


Why should YOUR business have a social media presence?


Farming is an industry which can be seen as ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘left behind’, when it comes to aspects such as social media, but in actual fact it couldn’t be further from the truth – farmers embrace technology, with 53% using social media on a regular basis.


In our next blog we look at how using social media platforms can help increase your customer engagement and make you an industry influencer. In the meantime though, we’d like to know how you use social media currently and what opportunities it presents for you? Have your say and tweet us @AHDB_BeefLamb to join in the conversation.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

How the Quality Standard Mark is helping the red meat industry’s image

Karl Pendlebury, Quality Manager at AHDB, blogs about the Quality Standard Mark (QSM) scheme and the impact it has on the red meat supply chain.

My role as Quality Manager at AHDB involves managing the QSM scheme and ensuring the red meat supply chain has access to information about maintaining quality meat. I aim to help motivate producers to supply products that are more consistent and maintain consumer confidence in domestically produced red meat. A recent YouGov survey discovered that 51 per cent of people believe quality meat is worth paying more for, while 61 per cent will pay more for quality, so it is our role as advocates of the red meat industry to ensure that our meat produced in the UK ensures a quality end product that is in demand.

QSM is an assurance scheme that is a mark of quality for the consumer and is underpinned by schemes covering animal welfare, food safety, hygiene and environmental protection. It also allows information on where the animal is born, raised and slaughtered, ensuring complete provenance. It is the only assurance scheme that really looks at the science behind meat-eating quality, with all meat produced under the mark chosen according to a strict selection process to ensure the product is consistent. QSM beef and lamb is produced to high standards and consumers can be confident that the supply chain is fully assured and independently inspected at every stage.

AHDB’s 2017–2020 strategy has set an ambitious target – we are aiming to increase beef and sheep carcases meeting supplier specifications by two per cent year on year for the next three years. We will do this through research into new technology and provide a clear understanding of carcase classification, based on quality rather than yield. Our technical team is focussing on projects such as Selection Academy, Strategic Farms and HoloLens technology. The activities are ultimately aiming to inform beef and lamb producers on how they can meet carcase specification better.





The QSM scheme benefits producers by ensuring that meat reaches supplier specifications, which ultimately will achieve a better price and create a more profitable and consistent red meat supply from the UK.

We recently appointed chef Chris Wheeler as UK ambassador for the scheme. Chris has featured on BBC 2’s Great British Menu and regularly appears on national radio. We hope, that with Chris’ help we can spread the positive message of QSM beef and lamb to both the supply chain and consumers alike.The scheme is free to join and is open to a range of businesses including abattoirs, cutting plants, wholesalers, meat processors, catering butchers, foodservice outlets, approved distributors and retailers, both independent and multiple.




Joining the scheme ensures that businesses are following an industry standard and can guarantee their customers beef and lamb of a consistent quality. There is a dedicated team on hand to help with all enquiries and to help companies understand more about how they can promote the quality of their produce.

For more information about the scheme and to keep up to date with QSM activity visit http://www.qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk/quality-standard-mark or contact the scheme helpline on 0845 4918787.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Last leg of American journey - Becky Willson's Nuffield Scholar trip

Nuffield scholar Becky Willson is travelling around the world to visit countries to find out more about emissions reductions projects for farmers. In the last of a three-part series of blogs, she visits Nebraska and California to look at the issue of soil health.


The third part of my journey saw me travel to Nebraska to talk predominantly about soil health and building resilience within the farming system. Nebraska is a very dry state with an annual rainfall of 24 – 28 inches. I met a variety of farmers who were using different management options (including rotational grazing, cover crops, reduced tillage and intercropping), but they all had the same three goals in mind:

  •          To enhance water cycle and nutrient cycle efficiency
  •          To improve soil organic matter content (and alongside it soil health)
  •          To enhance long and short-term soil resilience

The farmers in Nebraska also work with state climatologists to develop tools that include weather forecasting to help them with farm management decisions. They try to use historical climate data to predict what may happen in the season. I found it interesting when talking to these farmers – they had come to the realisation that the most limiting factor to their yields (and ultimately profit) after water was carbon and not nitrogen, which they could go and buy.


The final stop was California, the biggest agricultural economy in the world, where they are spearheading a project called ‘Healthy Soils’, which uses money from a carbon tax to fund soil carbon projects. The state was being used as a ‘test bed’ to try the idea, which could then be rolled out nationally. I talked to the people responsible for the project and the farmers who were involved – there was an air of excitement, which was slightly tempered by the new administration and whether the project would still happen. 


In summary, it was a fascinating trip, which gave me an opportunity to visit a large range of inspirational people and projects, but also provided me with more questions as to how we can implement some of America’s good practices here in the UK. Integration is a key issue, which we need to focus on, namely what can we integrate within UK agricultural policy that would hit emissions reduction targets without extra paperwork or bureaucracy? There are also problems around what the public will pay for in terms of environmental credentials, and whether we can include carbon in it.

What is clear is that we can all work together on these issues, and by co-ordinating efforts across sectors, industries and countries, there may be an opportunity to achieve real and positive change.