National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

NBA Expresses Dismay at Failure to Sign off AHDB Marketing Campaign

1st September 2015

Region: National

With the announcement of the resignation of Stuart Roberts as chairman of the AHDB Beef and Lamb board for levy payers in England, the industry has been left not knowing what the future holds for beef and lamb marketing. Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the NBA expressed their dismay commenting;

“We are aware that AHDB beef and lamb has had a process of having to have promotional campaigns signed off by Defra, but the mess resulting in the failure to sign off this year’s marketing campaign, is completely unacceptable.”

Resigning following a meeting of the sector body on Monday 24th August 2015, Stuart also resigned as a board member of the AHDB.  With the Government refusing to sign-off a budget set aside for promoting British meat, resulting in the loss of a planned TV advertising campaign, the chair of the beef and lamb board was left with little choice.

A raid on the beef and lamb levies is definitely on the cards with the recent announcement from the chancellor, George Osborne declaring budget cuts of 25 to 40 per cent in the autumn.

With pressure being applied by Defra for AHDB to utilise levy payer’s money to fill in some of the holes in Defra’s dwindling budget, this is entirely unjustified and leaving the English industry trailing heavily behind the ROI and Scotland in terms of marketing.

Chris goes on to say; “It is apparent that there is a need for an independent review covering the management of AHDB, how AHDB interacts with government, and questions need to be addressed as to why decisions made by the beef and lamb board need to be signed off at cabinet level.  It begs the question, when the sector board chair is appointed by the minister, should the chair not be able to sign off the wishes of the board, without the need of civil servants scrutiny?

“It would appear that Defra want to decide how levy money is spent, this surely should be the responsibility of the sector boards who should be setting their own strategy, and have the authority to fully implement the agreed plan.”

In recent weeks members have repeatedly pointed out the lack of promotional activity, even though producers are continually seeing their prices for finished stock not even covering the cost of production.  This would signify that marketing and promotion is vital to ensure shoppers are encouraged to choose red meat for their shopping baskets.  This was clearly evident when last week a marketing specialist showed that the reason premium brand Highland Spring Water was more expensive than milk was purely down to the marketing strategy, having little to do with the cost of production.  This statement may be considered over simplistic, but the fact remains many levy payers would prefer their levy money to be spent on promotion.

Commenting Chris said; “Peter Kendall may believe promotional activity is poor value and that more of levy payer’s money should be spent on research and development of which as part of this farmers would inevitably receive even more fact sheets and circulars through the post.  However, Mr Kendall as the head of the AHDB has a duty to ensure levy payers are not overlooked at the expense of a private agenda.”

To remain fair and equitable, the decision on how levy money is spent should be considered by a committee of producers and processors, who after all make up the main representatives of the meat chain, the decision should not be subject to the whim of civil servants and politicians trying to fill funding gaps.

Concluding Chris says: “A review of the whole process is long overdue.  The timing of this is particularly unfortunate as Bord Bia have just announced their upcoming marketing campaign in the UK and it is inexcusable that due to ministerial dithering the home industry has nothing in the arsenal to fire back.”

-       ENDS -

Media Enquiries – Glendale PR – 01668 283044 –  [email protected]

Chris Mallon Chief Executive – 01434 601 005 –  [email protected]

National Beef Association, Mart Centre, Tyne Green, Hexham – 01434601005,  [email protected]