AHDB to undertake “comprehensive” review of its organisational strategy

AHDB is to undertake a comprehensive review of its organisational strategy during 2016 to develop, for the first time, one clear long-term corporate strategy for the organisation, based on “bold ambitions” for the future of UK agriculture and horticulture.

This is one of the key outcomes from the results of an Activity Review, carried out last autumn and winter during which levy payers were asked to pinpoint the challenges facing their businesses and to select their priorities for AHDB going forward.

The review, which has now been published, highlighted low profitability and volatility as two key challenges facing businesses, with levy payers duly concluding that they want AHDB to do more to help them cope better with global market volatility. They also asked for more help in the development of the brand reputation for British food at home and overseas and for more attention on growing the market.

Levy payers also said they wanted AHDB to communicate better with them and to more clearly demonstrate the ‘value’ of the organisation’s work to those who end up funding the board’s activities.

The 10-page review report, as a result, commits AHDB to the following six action points, some of which are already in development:

  • Changes to sector plans. These affect AHDB Dairy, which announced a change to its business plan (2016–2019), and changes to AHDB Potatoes, whose business plan (2016–2019) is being shifted towards a greater focus on farm productivity.
  • Review communication. Having already created a dedicated communications team in the last year, AHDB is committed to a review of all communications activities and delivery channels to ensure communications to farmers, growers, processors, key stakeholders, consumers and policymakers are relevant and targeted. Alongside this, a review of digital and online activities is aimed to deliver better value for money by creating joined-up, accessible and interactive digital platforms.
  • Evaluation and impact assessment. AHDB is putting in place consistent and robust evaluation mechanisms to provide clarity on the value derived from levy-funded activity. A more rigorous and systematic approach has started with the launch of an Investment Test for new programmes of work. As of 1 April 2016, new programmes and projects valued over £50,000 will need to be supported by a clear business case that demonstrates how the programme delivers economic benefits, solves a supply chain problem, improves decision-making or addresses sustainability. Programmes will be scrutinised and scored by an AHDB panel before being recommended to boards for consideration in business plans. At the heart of this approach is a clear focus on the outcomes that each programme seeks and how these will be monitored and evaluated.
  • Volatility. AHDB has created an industry-led Volatility Forum. This brings together experts from across the food and farming industry with a remit to broaden and deepen the industry’s understanding of the causes of volatility, how resilience can be built within farming businesses and the potential tools that could be deployed to better manage its effects on businesses. The Forum’s first piece of work will deal with future markets and will work closely with Defra to examine the potential to extend future trading beyond the cereals sector to other parts of the food and farming industry.
  • Strategy review. AHDB will undertake a comprehensive review of its organisational strategy during 2016 to develop, for the first time, one clear long-term corporate strategy for AHDB based on bold ambitions for the future of agriculture and horticulture. There will also be a fundamental appraisal of the organisation’s long-term strategies, the setting of ambitions and the identifying of the areas where AHDB is uniquely or best-placed. The emphasis will be on what the organisation does and does not do to achieve its ambitions and will concentrate on doing a few things well to deliver outcomes that improve the performance of the industry.

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