At what is a crucial time for the sector and the future of its exports, West Midlands’ livestock members are encouraged to attend the next Regional Livestock Board.
Taking place on Tuesday 15 January at the NFU Regional Office, Telford, attendees will be joined by industry specialist Remi Fourrier, AHDB export manager for France.
During the meeting, members will have the opportunity to hear from Remi about the St George brand which is used for most of the AHDB export activity on the French markets. Remi and his team carry out a range of activities to highlight Quality Standard beef and lamb to French consumers. The French team specifically works to stimulate demand for UK red meat and among as many consumers as possible, focussing on the product’s high quality.
Currently the Agneau St George (St George Lamb) and Boeuf St George (St George Beef) brands are used to market UK beef and lamb and this has proved successful, helping to differentiate the product and communicate messages to consumers about the taste and tenderness of farm assured produce.
Richard Yates, NFU West Midlands Livestock Board Chairman commented: “Many farmers will be setting budgets for the year ahead, and Brexit clearly muddies the waters. This meeting will give members the opportunity to hear important information from someone operating at the heart of a European business which has been so vital to our profitability.”
He added: “Naturally livestock farmers are concerned about the ramifications of Brexit in part, and what may happen to our lamb export market if we crash out of Europe.
As the cattle deadweight price has been dropping for several months, many farmers are scrutinising their businesses to decide which direction to go down. Farmers need to gather all the available information to make the best formed decisions.”
France represents the single most important export market for UK lamb, taking over 50 percent of exports. France is also only 35 percent self-sufficient in lamb, and UK imports represent 25 percent of the market.
In 2015 the UK exported 42,700 tonnes of lamb to France, making it the largest supplier of sheep meat. Beef exports are more modest and in 2015 10,085 tonnes of beef were sent.
Working to secure access to new markets for high quality UK beef and lamb is a high priority, but defending well-established markets is also crucial to maintain demand.