Producers who pay more attention to market demands and seek ways innovate will be able to ride out the challenges and unlock the potential of the pig, poultry meat and egg sectors, visitors to the 2012 British Pig and Poultry Fair have been told.
Karen McQuade of the UK Food Hall
said British producers could never compete with imports on price.
Rising input costs, cheap imports and a weakening Euro means producers are facing more pressures than ever before.
But there is opportunity to make a profit by finding alternative markets and offering unique products which meet consumer demand.
Speaking at the first day of the event at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire (15 May), Karen McQuade of the UK Food Hall said British producers could never compete with imports on price.
But she said farmers could create an innovative product which customers could not get elsewhere and were willing to pay a higher price for.
“UK Food Hall supplies British food to more schools than anyone in the UK,” she told a packed room of delegates at the headline debate on the opportunities for British in the food service sector.
“People want to buy British and we have got local authorities to understand the importance of Red Tractor, so the challenge for us is keeping British produce on school menus.”
Ms McQuade added: “We can’t compete on sliced and diced poultry, but we can change British breast fillets to something the industry wants. We know our market.
“You need to get to know your market thoroughly to get an edge on your competitors and innovate to meet their needs.”
NFU President Peter Kendall said customers would not buy home-grown produce simply because it was produced in Britain. But competitive, sensitively-priced food would always appeal to buyers.
“The on-going situation with the Euro and how to manage exchange rates will continue to be a concern for producers, but those who drive innovation will have more opportunity to ride out those challenges,” he added.
“The industry has to work so much harder in these difficult time and we need to think differently about who our customers are. It’s doing things like this which will allow us to have the most competitive sector possible.”
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