Industry giants to unite for the first time to counter red meat myths

Agricultural organisations from England, Scotland and Wales are uniting in a new initiative which will see them work together to communicate the benefits of red meat in a balanced diet as part of a reinforced meat and health programme.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) Meat Promotion Wales and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) are uniting behind a jointly-funded programme of activity to collectively raise consumer awareness of red meat’s positive messages.

The initiative is being financed as part of a £2 million fund of AHDB red meat levies ring-fenced for collaborative projects.

This interim arrangement is in place while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at the point of slaughter in England, for animals which have been reared in Scotland or Wales.

This is the first time the three organisations – which each have their own health and education programmes – have delivered a united GB-wide programme of health activity behind beef, lamb and pork.

As part of its work, AHDB has, for some time allocated resources to the Meat Matters programme, which has included input and funding from Beef and Lamb New Zealand, Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Livestock and Meat Council Northern Ireland, and Ireland’s Bord Bia, on consumer messaging, which will continue alongside the core programme.

What’s involved?

The 2018-19 programme of shared activity, involving QMS and HCC, kicked off this month and will see a greater focus on proactive campaigns aimed at providing consumers with balanced and evidence-led advice on the role that meat can play in a healthy, balanced diet.

There will be a strong focus on social media and press activity targeted at engaging younger consumers in recognition of the growing interest in health.

Christine Watts, chief marketing and communications officer at AHDB said: “There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that red meat is packed with nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins and potassium.

Consumers are often duped by pseudo-science or ill-informed and sensationalist reporting encouraging them to cut down on their meat consumption or cut it out altogether. This can be highly dangerous – especially for certain groups who are deficient in vital nutrients such as iron.

“This industry has a great story to tell – not just in terms of nutrition, but in terms of sustainability and environmental harmony.

“This reinvigorated programme will help to get these messages to consumers enabling them to make an informed and balanced choice.”

Core to the refreshed activity will be the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) which is made up of independent authoritative doctors, surgeons and nutritionists advocating red meat in the diet who work to debunk many of the myths associated with red meat consumption.

Environmental messaging will be given more prominence and there will be issues management work on behalf of the wider industry and stakeholders.

Carol McLaren, director of marketing and communications at QMS, said: “Farmers and others working at each step of the red meat production chain take huge pride in the care and commitment which goes into producing a safe and nutritious product.

“This new programme of activity offers an excellent opportunity to work closely with our sister organisations in England and Wales to collectively raise the profile of red meat’s positive health and sustainability messages.”

Work from the programme will also feed into wider international organisations, like the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), to ensure consistent messaging on meat and health issues is shared around the globe.