meat products

The NFU will host an industry summit this week aimed at arresting the decline in red meat consumption and formulating a clear strategy to promote the sector.

Representatives from Tesco, Asda and The Co-op Group are expected at the meeting at the NFU’s HQ in Warwickshire on 11 February, alongside meat processors, AHDB, Red Tractor, the National Sheep Association and other industry groups, said NFU chief livestock adviser John Royle.

It comes as consumption of red meat is declining; with an 8% fall in total volumes from 2011 to 2015, while the lamb sector has fared particularly badly, with volumes falling by 6.7% for the year to 26 April [Kantar/AHDB 2015].

“This is clearly a huge concern for the industry and represents a number of challenges,” said Royle. “There is no real calendar of events for the sector, and no one is co-ordinating any marketing activity.”

The meeting would “get the right people together in a room at the same time”, to develop an industry-wide strategy, Royle added, and would be a first move in developing greater collaboration across the red meat sector.

“Collectively we can probably do more to back each other’s campaigns, in addition to reducing duplication, boosting sales and identifying any gaps,” he suggested.

The meeting follows delays to a major advertising push for British lamb last year after a £1.6m autumn campaign was subjected to increased government spending controls through the Cabinet Office - described as government “dithering and delay” by angry producers.

The campaign was eventually given the green light at the start of September. However, critics noted the delay - which came to light in August - had led AHDB Beef & Lamb to miss out on sought-after primetime TV and advertising slots.