A world of beef & lamb innovation

22 September 2015

A world of beef & lamb innovationAdopting global best practice when it comes to product innovation and marketing the carcase more effectively can help the industry drive up beef and lamb sales. This was the key message from AHDB Beef & Lamb’s A World of Innovation Conference, which took place in London on 10 September.

An audience of senior executives from the beef and lamb supply chain, including major processors, multiple retailers, catering butchers, wholesalers and leading foodservice groups, gathered at the iconic Tower of London for the conference, which showcased the latest trends, product development initiatives and marketing innovations from the UK and overseas.

AHDB Beef & Lamb sector director, Nick Allen, presided over the day’s programme and was joined by Mike Whittemore and other members of the trade marketing team, Simon Peat from Inside Foodservice, as well as keynote speakers, Jim Ethridge and Steve Wald from the Beef Innovations Group in the US.

Entitled ‘A World of Innovation’ the conference provided a unique insight into the latest consumer trends in the US with guest speakers highlighting the importance of innovation to ensure a successful future for the industry. Expert speakers also examined the UK market, looking at current market dynamics, the latest product development initiatives and the relationship between red meat and health. The event also included a presentation exploring the UK foodservice sector, presenting the ground-breaking tastes and ideas from around the world that are trending right now and discussed how these are fusing with an increased consumer demand for locally sourced beef and lamb.

Mike Whittemore, head of trade marketing for AHDB Beef & Lamb, said: "The conference was designed to bring together the key players from the beef and lamb supply chain and give them a global perspective on things. Our main aims were to provide genuine inspiration, practical solutions and help make good better – ultimately driving beef and lamb sales.

"There is so much we can learn from our American colleagues when it comes to product and packaging innovation and consumer marketing. This was a great opportunity to showcase some of their most innovative insights and advancements to the UK supply chain.”

Guest speaker Jim Ethridge, executive director of strategic account management, from the Beef Innovations Group in the US, explained the importance of innovative beef cuts and described how the industry is adapting to target and satisfy younger consumers.

Jim said: "When developing new products it’s important to recognise that each muscle cut performs differently, so when you know and channel those unique qualities, you can start to maximise the individual opportunities available.

"Convenience is also a key factor to consider as consumers are becoming increasingly busy. They don’t want to think about their meal solutions, so we as an industry, have to ensure that we make things easy and produce products that appeal to their needs as well as tasting really good. How we retail these fresh products and the convenience advantages is critical in driving growth for the beef market.”

Jim continued: "Currently in the US, the significant importance of the ‘social foodie’ and growing ‘millennial[1]’ market, which accounts for the majority of beef eating occasions in the US, is clear to see for the beef industry. These younger generation consumers want adventure through their food now and want to have fun with it, sharing ideas and inspiration. In recent years, we have changed our voice at the Beef Innovations Group, and have targeted a youthful audience, with social media being a crucial element in communicating with this key audience. Take advantage of the moment today to secure a viable audience in the future.”

Steve Wald, executive director of innovation for the US Beef Innovations Group, encouraged delegates to help increase their businesses’ probability of success by innovating to extend the lifespan of products. He also demonstrated the latest packaging advancements that are taking the US by storm, including packaging that can be placed directly into a slow-cooker and packaging for microwavable mince.

The conference also dedicated a significant portion of the event to foodservice, presenting AHDB Beef & Lamb’s latest research into what’s hot in the sector, with a view to providing inspiration not only to guests from the foodservice supply chain, but also to retailers and their suppliers. Mike added: "The foodservice sector is often seen as a good barometer of what is going to happen in the food industry as consumers try new things when they dine out and then attempt to recreate those dishes at home.”

In summation, Mike said: "At AHDB Beef & Lamb we strive to be the catalysts of positive change and the conference has been a fantastic opportunity to look at ways we can improve beef and lamb offerings both in and out of the home. My colleagues in the trade marketing team and I would be delighted to work closely with retailers and caterers and their supply chains to develop any of the concepts presented at the conference.”

The full conference programme can be found below.

Full Conference Programme

AHDB Beef & Lamb – Trade Marketing Strategy and Successes
–Mike Whittemore, Head of Trade Marketing, AHDB Beef & Lamb

UK Beef and Lamb Market Update
–Matt Southam, Multiple Retailer Account Manager, AHDB Beef & Lamb

UK Innovation and Product Development
–Dick van Leeuwen, Business Development Manager, AHDB Beef & Lamb

US Beef Market Update
–Jim Ethridge, Executive Director, Strategic Account Management, Beef Innovations Group

US Product Innovation and Market Development
–Steve Wald, Executive Director, Innovation, Beef Innovations Group

UK Foodservice: A World of Innovation
–Hugh Judd, Foodservice Project Manager, AHDB Beef & Lamb

–Simon Peat, Managing Director, Inside Foodservice

Red Meat and Nutrition
–Mo Fisher, Marketing Communications Manager, AHDB Beef and Lamb

Q&A Panel Session

[1] Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

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