Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Have you got the selection factor?

AHDB Beef & Lamb is on the hunt for individuals with the beef and lamb X factor! Steve Dunkley, Knowledge Exchange Senior Manager, blogs about how he is aiming to find farming’s next big selection experts through a selection academy.

I am looking for people who have something special when it comes to selecting livestock for slaughter. My aim is to identify a team of passionate individuals who have the ability and enthusiasm to train others to select both sheep and cattle and therefore help the industry thrive. 

As part of AHDB’s new ‘Inspiring Success’ 2017-2010 strategy our target is to increase the number of animals meeting supplier specifications by two per cent year on year. So, in 2020, we are aiming for 58% of cattle and sheep to meet target specification. To do this I want to set up an initiative known as a Knowledge Exchange Supply Chain Programme, where we can work with farmers, processors, auction markets and retailers on the key factors that affect whether animals meet the target, including genetics, nutrition, health and selection. The selection academy will just be one of the many projects that form part of the wider Knowledge Exchange Supply Chain Programme.

Meeting target specification is important as it ensures the industry is producing what the market wants and ultimately keeping consumers eating beef and lamb. This is something that impacts beef and sheep producers’ profitability and is why I’m aiming to put together a team of people that will equip the industry with an understanding about the importance of sending stock to slaughter once they know they meet target specification for the market they are aiming for.

Although I’m keen that applicants have some knowledge of selecting livestock, we will work with those who are successful to develop their knowledge of consumer demands, processing considerations and finishing livestock as well as their core presentation and facilitation skills. AHDB will also provide useful resources such as presentation slides, technical literature and banners. What I do ask for is a willingness to learn and a passion to help the industry, as I want the final team to work across the country identifying opportunities to speak and demonstrate the selection message using live animals at meetings, events and shows.



Still not sure if this is the role for you? For some inspiration watch Steve Powdrill, our national selection specialist, assessing lambs before and after slaughter.
The deadline for applications is 10 February and assessment days will be held in the North and South of England from 6 March.

To apply for a chance to be part of our selection ‘dream team’ please visit our website for further details, fill out the application form and email to brp@ahdb.org.uk


If you would like to know more about our Knowledge Exchange activity, email: Steve.Dunkley@ahdb.org.uk or phone: 07841570549.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Developing new markets for red meat exports

With the UK’s future trading environment extremely uncertain, AHDB’s work developing new export markets has taken on an even greater significance. In November, Jonathan Eckley, Senior Export Manager for AHDB, visited three Asian markets to explore their potential and uncover new opportunities for British beef, lamb and pork. Here Jonathan gives an overview of those markets and the work that AHDB Exports are doing to gain and maintain market access.

I started my trip in Vietnam as part of a high-level European Commission trade mission. I joined 45 delegates from 16 member states for the visit, with the aim of understanding more about the country’s red meat market and the potential for British beef and lamb. Although the UK does not currently have access to this fascinating market, it is high on our target list to gain all-important access for our exports. Vietnam would meet our fifth quarter market requirement, as they consume parts of the animal for which there is little demand on the home market, and therefore would help balance the carcase and add value throughout the supply chain.

The next stop was Shanghai, where I attended Food Hotel China (FHC) as part of the Great Britain pavilion. FHC is an important event for the food sector in China and the second largest presence of the year for the AHDB Exports team. The trade fair takes place every November and is a great opportunity for us to fly the flag for British meat and get an insight into China’s appetite for beef, lamb and pork (see our Market intelligence research into lamb imports into China).


The show also enables us to assist British exporters to develop and strengthen existing relationships with Chinese customers. In the case of beef and lamb, where we don’t yet have access to the market, the priority is to build relationships with key stakeholders in the supply chain, so we can hit the ground running as and when access is granted. We are making progress towards this, as in November Chinese officials met with AHDB and Defra for an inspection at a beef farm and abattoir in Surrey and the Midlands to show at first hand our high levels of animal welfare and disease control measures.

While in the region I also made a quick visit to Hong Kong on a fact-finding mission. The UK already has access to this high-value market, where our focus is on promoting our products to high-end retailers and the quality food service market. Our Quality Standard Mark (QSM) beef and lamb needs continual marketing support to appeal to Hong Kong’s discerning consumers.

The city of Beijing was the last stop on the mission, where I attended the Anufood show. Defra Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom, was also in Beijing at the time and joined AHDB at a specialist round table discussion to find out more about the all-important Chinese food and drink market and how Britain can make the most of it. We discussed Britain’s reputation for high-quality produce, but also expressed our willingness to make use of the whole carcase, including maximising the potential of the fifth quarter market.

In summary, there are many unknown factors in the post-Brexit landscape, but AHDB Exports is working hard to ensure that British agriculture is in good position once discussions on trade agreements with counties outside the EU can begin.


For more information on the work of AHDB Exports and the activity being done to promote red meat overseas visit www.ahdb.org.uk/exports.