AHDB gets fit for the future in market development restructure

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is to restructure its exports, trade and consumer marketing teams to ensure it is ‘fit for the future’.

The proposals herald a move to a more agile and streamlined approach to consumer marketing campaigns, enhanced relationships with retailers and an export team ready to seize post-Brexit opportunities to open new markets.

The plans for change are driven by the need to have resource and capacity in the high-growth international export markets and the importance of changing consumer demand at home.

Changing consumer trends and the need to be current and relevant in communication and marketing work also helped shape the approach, while there is an ambition to deliver more activity based on partnership working to get the most value and reach for monies invested.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s Chief Officer for Communications and Market Development, said: “AHDB export and marketing work is an important investment our farmers, growers and industry make through their levy, totalling around £16 million per year.

“We need to invest this money in the most efficient and effective way and, in a post-Brexit world, we need to be structured to deliver where we can make the most positive impact.

“AHDB has a clear, strategic priority of helping the industry understand what consumers will trust and buy. Our marketing work must be relevant to the consumer and delivered in a way that reaches them effectively, with investment in talented people to deliver digital, online and social media campaigns.”

AHDB is aiming for the restructure to deliver savings in excess of £750,000 over two years, which it is intended to reinvest back into communications, events, online promotion, export and domestic marketing campaign activity. The restructure will be completed by April 2018. The proposals will also energise export work with staff dedicated to building markets in the EU, Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific countries.

Christine added: “The proposed restructure is likely to see a small number of redundancies but will also offer new opportunities. These include, among others, the creation of a new Head of Domestic Marketing role charged with delivering a single overarching consumer marketing offering for all of AHDB’s sectors. There will also be new roles in our digital and international events teams to proactively promote products at home and abroad.

“In addition, there will be new heads of export roles for the red meat sector based on high growth markets like Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East/Africa and, longer term, the Americas.

“We recognise that change is always difficult but we are committed to delivering a world-class service for our farmers, growers and industry. By making some tough decisions, as we have already done in the recent past, we will have an export, trade and marketing team which is flexible, closely aligned and working to a common agenda.”

The proposal for new AHDB exports roles in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific reflects a drive from the industry to open up new markets for British products outside the EU. The new roles follow on from the decision in 2015 to appoint Karen Morgan as the UK’s first Agriculture and Food Counsellor in China – a post funded by AHDB from its inception.

The restructure will enable AHDB to achieve better value for money for farmers, growers and processors.

AHDB said the restructure would not affect the current pork marketing campaign.

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