UK beef shortage affecting exports

The shortage of UK beef for export was highlighted in a presentation given this week (26 June) at the annual Eblex Export Conference in Stoneleigh Park, England.

Jean-Pierre Garnier, head of Eblex export services, spoke of a beef shortage in the UK market, which included a shortage of premium beef from Ireland, a move towards mince products as well as retail price pressure.

Garnier said the major reason for low production and exports of beef was due to farmers retaining their heifers for breeding, which he said also explained an increase in calf registrations.

Garnier said: “When you want to increase the beef market you have to take a drop because you have to keep the heifers.”

Although exports and production of beef were down, Garnier said the UK still exported 18.6% of production in the first quarter of 2012 and there was a better outlook for 2013.

He also revealed a new strategy to boost beef exports further and help producers compete with US beef through “positioning English beef as a premium grass-fed, matured product”.

In order to do this, Eblex will focus on the heritage behind the meat and build a strong English profile by marketing the connection between meat and the English countryside.

To help explain how a company can build a strong “English” profile, Eddie Mullen, international manager of Tyrrells, the hand-cooked crisp company, presented Tyrrells’ marketing strategy.

Mullen said: “We have a huge advantage in the UK in terms of conscious perception when talking about the mark of quality and origin. We have the British cultures and personalities, which are exportable alongside products.

“There’s a lot of traction you can get from emphasising the origin of product and the most important thing is that it does what it says. Think about Hereford Beef and Aberdeen Angus, they have provenance, quality and truth.”

Mullen, however, admitted that it would be hard to add these qualities when marketing meat products and said: “Companies have found it difficult to create a brand quality but if you can do it, it’s a very powerful thing.”