Hardly any brands have managed to crack fresh meat, fish or poultry. Julia Glotz investigates why – and finds out where future opportunities might lie

Fresh food has traditionally been a tricky hunting ground for brands.

The highly commoditised nature of many fresh food staples, after all, means adding value and delivering meaningful NPD – the bread and butter of brands – can be a lot more diffi cult in fresh than in other grocery categories. Yet many fresh food aisles have been transformed by brands in recent years.

In dairy, for example, the likes of Dairy Crest, Arla and Robert Wiseman have taken humble commodities and turned them into multimillion-pound brands. In fresh meat, fi sh and poultry, however, the impact of brands remains limited.

Sure, there are the sausage brands – industry stalwarts Richmond and Wall’s as well as the new crop of premium bangers such as Debbie & Andrew’s – and specialists such as Bernard Matthews Farms and Gressingham Foods, which have successfully carved out niches within the category.

But a mainstream fresh beef, pork or chicken brand able to give own-label a run for its money? Nowhere to be found.

Also in Meat & Fish Supplement 2011

Farming minister Jim Paice joins industry big hitters in the line of fire for our question time on key supply chain issues

The tycoon behind 2 Sisters and the surprise swoop on Northern Foods is one of grocery’s most private entrepreneurs

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s TV crusade galvanised the EU into action on fishing practices – and wowed suppliers

It’s been the poor relation to beef for too long. Will efforts to turn pork into a tempting and versatile product pay off?