Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Opportunities and challenges for British red meat highlighted at AHDB Export Conference

Jonathan Eckley, Senior Red Meat Exports Manager, looks at the opportunities and challenges for British meat in the global marketplace that were discussed at the AHDB Meat Export conference.

The strong performance of British meat exports was highlighted at the 13th Meat Export Conference which took place at the Warwick Hilton on 29 June. Minister for Food and Farming, George Eustice, addressed the 120-strong audience with a particular focus on Brexit and responded to questions from the participants. Among the speakers, Celio Cella, a Shanghai-based meat importer discussed the Chinese market for premium, branded meats and Pr. Alan Matthews of Trinity College Dublin, a renowned expert on food trade, reviewed the Brexit situation.

HMRC data, discussed at the conference, indicates that for the first five months of 2017, UK sheep meat exports have been up and increased by 18% on the year to 34,000 tonnes. Although exports to markets outside the EU more than doubled on the year, it’s worth noting that they only accounted for around 7% of total exports. Sheep meat offal shipments in the five month period also show growth, driven by a 62% increase in shipments to destinations outside of the EU.



The latest in AHDB’s series of Horizon reports, ‘The WTO and its Implications for UK Agriculture’ was also launched at the conference. Previous Horizon publications have examined the trading relationship the UK may have with the EU, post-Brexit. What many have not considered is that, regardless of whether a trade agreement is in place with the EU, the UK will need to abide by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules affecting agricultural and trade policy when it exits the EU. This is explored in the latest report.

Brexit presents some certainties, as co-phrased by Michel Barnier, by the end of March 2019, the UK will become de facto a Third Country outside of Europe. This has major implications for the UK Beef and Lamb sector. The export trade will also be influenced by changes in import conditions and tariffs with Third Countries. Shipment certificates, Export Health Certificates and certificates of origin will accompany each consignment, however small it may be. There will be border controls of documentation and some physical inspections. This certainly provides some challenges in terms of being prepared for this new situation.



Although Brexit presents our sector with many challenges, it may also provide an opportunity to develop regulatory and policy measures that fit the UK’s unique needs which play to our strengths. The horizon reports provide an excellent reference for the many issues surrounding Brexit.


The meat export conference offered a unique forum where the complex issues and prospects related to exports were presented and discussed. It is also an important event where processors, traders and stakeholders from trade associations and government bodies can meet. It has become an important date in the industry’s calendar and will only become more important in the lead up to Brexit.

Friday, 14 July 2017

How can social media boost your business? Part 2

In this second blog from the AHDB social media team, we look at how social media can help to develop your farm business. Kate Nolan-Burgess blogs about the three key ways in which social media can improve your business.

We’ve already looked at how AHDB is using social media to communicate to our levy payers, but what can it do for YOUR business? The farming industry is often seen as ‘behind the times’ but that is not the case. Having a presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter could help you to find out key information, network, get closer to your customer base and develop your farm business overall. Here are the three key areas social media can help your business improve on:

Consumer engagement
Do you feel far removed from the end-consumer? Would you like to understand more about how they use and what they want out of your beef & sheep produce?

Producers rarely get the chance to communicate directly with those who buy their products; social media can be used as a tool to cut out the middleman, allow you to hear directly from your customers and nurture those relationships. As we are now a population of online buyers, talking to your customers online has become increasingly important – it could help you gain a better understanding of what your customers want, inform consumers on where your produce comes from, promote your products and stay ahead of the competition.
   


Networking
Do you like a good debate? 14 per cent of farmers use social media to tackle rural isolation by connecting with fellow agricultural workers. Social media is becoming THE place for farmers to share their knowledge and expertise. There are a lot of groups such as @AgriChatUK and @sheep_farmers that help to connect those in the agriculture industry and create interesting conversations. Networking is also a great way to improve direct contact with influential people who could help grow your business.


        
Industry influence
Social media is a powerful tool, which can help bring about change and tackle issues. For example, last autumn social media played a massive role in AHDB Beef & Lamb’s #miniroast campaign reaching an estimate of 405,842 of social media users and contributing to the added £1.3 million in mini roast sales!

If you’re not sure about signing up to social media, you should take a look at how others in the industry are using it to their benefit, whether it’s your suppliers, competitors or producers. In our next blog, we’ll be starting our series of ‘how-to’ guides, which are aimed at producers and look at best practice.

Keep an eye on the Beef and Lamb matters blog for a regular update on the latest guides.
In the meantime, we’d like to know how you use social media already and what opportunities it presents for you. Head to Twitter and follow @AHDB_BeefLamb and @The­AHDB to join in with our conversations.