walk cow heads

The AHDB has announced plans to restructure its export, trade and consumer marketing teams in a move designed to save more than £750,000 over two years.

The shake-up is set for completion by April, the levy board confirmed, adding that there would be some redundancies as a result of the changes. However, it stressed that a “significant number” of new positions focused on expanding global export market for British food had been created, meaning the overall number of jobs would not fall.

New roles would be tasked with driving export markets beyond the EU, following the creation of the AHDB-funded post of UK agriculture and food counsellor in China in 2015, making the organisation “fit for the future”.

“AHDB export and marketing work is an important investment our farmers, growers and industry make through their levy, totalling around £16m per year,” said chief officer for communications and market development at AHDB Christine Watts.

“We need to invest this money in the most efficient and effective way and, in a post-Brexit world, we need to be structured to deliver where we can make the most positive impact. AHDB has a clear, strategic priority of helping the industry understand what consumers will trust and buy.”

Thin steaks

It comes as the AHDB announced it is in talks with retailers to set out a new grading system for thin steaks in a bid to increase consumption of underused cuts and boost the English beef category by 3%.

Using traditional slow cooking winter cuts - such as leg of mutton and chuck - to create thin steaks could increase turnover between farmers, retailers and processors by £7.7m, according to its research. Therefore, the AHDB developed a grading system using an “electronic bite test” to measure the meat’s tenderness and label accordingly to encourage consumers to buy the cuts, a spokeswoman told The Grocer.

“British pride lies in the quality of the beef that’s produced. The ‘bite test’ uses sheer force to measure tenderness, meaning that retailers could quantify quality and charge accordingly,” added AHDB head of trade and product development Mike Whittemore. “It also helps to ensure consistency and boost consumer confidence in beef steak.”

The AHDB has designed a marketing campaign to accompany the rollout of its campaign to increase awareness and usage of thin steaks during Great British Beef Week, from 23 to 30 April. The push would set out new usage occasions focusing on midweek convenience, while also promoting recipes using the cuts that would otherwise be minced, frozen or exported.

“This is a strategic move, allowing the wider meat industry to gain more value and improve quality from every beef carcase,” added Laura Ryan, strategy director for AHDB Beef & Lamb.

“The research offers processors an opportunity to move cuts needing to go towards lower price options, into the higher-value thin cut steak category, as and when they need.

“Thin cut steaks meet consumer needs. Today’s busy lifestyle means people are changing their eating habits and demand ease in cooking meat of any kind. The cut also commands a price which both generates greater value for the producer and retailer, but remains affordable for the customer.”