AHDB’s priorities for pork over the next five years will include growing markets overseas and protecting and promoting the reputation of pork at home.
This will be alongside helping producers adopt on-farm innovation and best practice through its existing network of Pig Clubs and Strategic and Monitor Farms, supported through its website, podcasts and digital tools.
AHDB has unveiled its new five-year strategy, including plans to give levy payers a much bigger say in the service it delivers and its priorities.
The strategy for 2021-2026 includes a commitment to a ballot every five years on the future of the levy as the changes focus on significantly improving levy payers’ engagement.
The strategy focuses work in three areas – Evidence and Data, Farm Performance and Marketing and Exports.
A new AHDB Evidence For Farming initiative will aim to support agricultural innovation, improving and measuring the way best practice is shared across the industry, with a specific focus on the impact on business profitability of applying environmental measures.
The levy body said its future marketing work will continue to champion the reputation of British food and farming. There will be marketing campaigns focusing on health, nutrition and the environment, with the first key campaign in this area launching from January 4, 2021.
For pigs, AHDB’s work to grow market overseas will include pursuing market access to countries such as Vietnam, in partnership with processors, stakeholders and Government
It will also look to continue to grow high-value markets such as Hong Kong and high-volume markets such as China.
“We will do this through having specialist staff on the ground in key markets, providing expertise and support. Growing markets overseas provides greater opportunities for carcase balance, which helps support domestic farmgate prices,” AHDB said in the strategy document.
The document outlines a number of measures to protect and promote the reputation of pork at home. These include:
- Ensuring consumers continue to have confidence in British pig production standards by funding activities such as the Electronic Medicines Book to track antibiotic use, the Pig Health scheme, disease surveillance and the Real Welfare Scheme
- Using its world-class consumer insight to deliver high-profile, targeted pork marketing campaigns, to meet consumer needs for health, nutrition, taste and convenience.
- Giving consumers the latest information on the nutritional value of pork and the important role it plays in a healthy balanced diet
- Building on the example of eMB-Pigs to create a similar system on behalf of the industry to collect data on environmental performance, showing consumers and policymakers the pig sector is committed to tracking and improving its impact on the environment.
AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir said the strategy and change programme demonstrated AHDB was listening and looking to build on the ‘Five Commitments’ it made in the wake of the Government’s Request for Views published earlier this year.
“We have listened very carefully to levy payers’ concerns about delivering value for money in such challenging times, and ensuring our work programmes are fit for purpose,” he said.
“We fully recognise there are genuine differences between challenges facing sectors, crops and species and that one size of offering does not fit all. Levies in the future must be set to reflect the value provided and work priorities clearly agreed with levy payers
“In addition, AHDB will review the current tools, services and products across all its sectors to see how they are being used by farmers and growers. We will keep listening to levy payers with open Board meetings, new levy payer user groups and developing interaction both in person and online.”
- The full AHDB strategy and proposed sector plans are published for consultation and can be found online at ahdb.org.uk/strategy. The closing date for feedback is January 31, 2021
- AHDB has put a podcast together with Nicholas Saphir on the new strategy. You can listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ahdb/id1324104670.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “It’s great to see such a strong focus on food advocacy, farm business performance and technical advice within the new strategy – some of the main things we highlighted in our case for AHDB review.
“AHDB has clearly listened to the industry and its proposals to improve transparency and governance will be welcome news for many farmers and growers.
“This consultation comes at a challenging time as our sector faces significant uncertainty in the coming weeks and years. Nevertheless, it is crucial that any multi-annual strategy results in an organisation that offers fantastic value for levy investment, alongside greater agility and accountability as farmers and growers meet the challenge of sustainable production this coming decade.”
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies welcomed the broad aims and objectives set out in the strategy. “But, as always, the devil will be in the detail so we will be looking at it closely and responding with our views.”