AHDB supports commons committee’s inquiry into marketing the British brand

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee last week launched an inquiry into the government’s promotion and marketing of British food and drink.

FLYING THE FLAG: The committee issued a call for views last week

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has thrown its support behind the committee’s inquiry which is expected to focus on the current success of the Food is GREAT campaign, and how the UK government is working with industry partners, like AHDB, to help build global recognition of UK excellence in food and drink.

Christine Watts, AHDB Chief Communications and Market Development Officer, said: “We already work closely with the Government on overseas promotion and market access so are delighted to be involved in this enquiry.

“We are submitting our own response to the consultation and would expect to be at the heart of ongoing discussion on how best to support farmers, growers and processors developing opportunities overseas.

“We have already spoken to Efra chairman Neil Parish on the important role AHDB plays. It is important to clarify, we would very much welcome the opportunity to openly promote on the basis of Britishness but, currently, European State Aid rules prevent this, hence the promotion work we do is product-based, with a growing focus on nutritional messaging, rather than driven by country of origin. Sector boards, made up of levy payers, already set our strategy and oversee spend. It may be that allocation of resources is revisited if these State Aid rules are not applicable after we come out of Europe.

“How British produce is promoted abroad is vital to the economy post-Brexit. A new piece of research was published today by AHDB into consumer attitudes towards Brand Britain in the UK. The work highlights that, while sentiment towards buying British remains strong, price is a key issue and a price differential of more than ten per cent will see people purchasing imported alternatives. It is crucial that we continue to invest in these pieces of research to ensure that AHDB and Government understand the needs and priorities of consumers, both abroad and at home.

“Going forward, we would welcome an open discussion with Efra committee members to look at all of our marketing activities and the wider work we are undertaking for our farmers, growers and the supply chain.

“AHDB has always gone to great lengths to be transparent and open about the work we are undertaking and the significant investment we make to promote products. Our priority has, and will remain, to ensure that our levy-payers get the best return on their investment. This year, AHDB will spend around £25 million on communications and marketing, including export work, out of a total budget of around £60 million.

“We have more active marketing campaigns than we have ever had in one go previously, including the Cheeky Beef thin cuts which is about to go live, the very successful pork campaign which is rejuvenating the image of pork, and the dairy sector’s Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs work. This work spans from television advertising to traditional print work and across to social media. All of this, we believe, is helping to promote the hard work and high quality products of our farmers and growers.

“Another way we are helping our levy-payers is by undertaking unique research on overseas markets to determine whether we are promoting British products effectively. The most recent Horizon report captured some of the reactions to Brand Britain in key export markets with consumer perception at the very core. What we have discovered is that behaviours and motivation of shoppers differ greatly across the globe and we cannot rely on Brand Britain alone to increase our exports. A one-size-fits-all approach to promotional activities will not work going forward.

“With Brexit on the horizon, these pieces of research are vital if we are to grow the export market for British food and farming products. AHDB is at the heart of preparations to capitalise on these opportunities and we continue to work with our farmers, growers and industry to ensure we reap the rewards of overseas trade.”

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