The EU remains a key trading partner for the UK’s red meat and dairy sectors, but exporters need to have a greater understanding of consumer needs to benefit from any future trade.
While home to the lion’s share of red meat and dairy exports, shipments to the EU have been steadily declining for the last 18 months – with factors such as Brexit, Covid-19 and the subsequent closure of foodservice, having a major impact.
However, according to AHDB’s latest Horizon report, ‘Exploring the EU: Understanding Consumer Needs’, opportunities still exist to increase trade and maximise on the good relationship enjoyed for the past 40 years.
AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “AHDB is committed to working with UK government and industry to continue the mutually beneficial trade with our neighbours in the EU and every effort is being made to ensure UK products remain in these important markets.
“But if we are to continue seeing our products on tables across the EU, it is crucial we have greater insight into what consumers in these important markets seek out when making their purchases.”
The new report takes an in-depth look at new and growing trends in multiple countries, pulling out key consumer opportunities and considerations for UK exporters.
It follows an AHDB-commissioned study carried out with consumer research agency Two Ears One Mouth to gain insight into the buying habits of consumers in the EU and to see whether they would consider buying British products.
Among the recommendations for UK exporters is the need for global messaging around Brand Britain, as well as more targeted communication to meet the needs of consumers within EU markets.
Exporters are also being urged to build on core messages around taste and quality, alongside wider reputational topics and give careful consideration to their unique selling points, messages, and visual cues.
AHDB Senior Consumer Insight Manager and co-author of the report Steven Evans said: “By gaining valuable insight into the meat-buying habits of more than 11,000 consumers across nine markets in the EU, and 4,000 dairy consumers in two markets, we have been able to produce a hugely important report for exporters in the UK.
“The research we have undertaken provides a wealth of knowledge about how consumers in the EU are looking for the food they eat to meet a greater number of needs, such as quality and taste, as well as increasingly looking for products which are environmentally friendly and have an ethical outlook, but they still expect food to be good value for money.”
It also includes valuable insight on consumers from agents and AHDB staff working in some of the key target markets – providing greater understanding of how consumers perceive red meat and dairy from the UK and the opportunities that exist for exporters.
Dr Hadley added: “Trade is critical to the long-term sustainability of the food and farming industry within the UK. AHDB understands the importance of the EU as an export market and, despite our recent exit, it remains the UK’s most important trading partner, presenting an opportunity for exporters.
“This latest Horizon report provides a wealth of crucial information for existing exporters within the UK, as well as levy payers who are looking to sell their products into markets within the EU for the first time.
“We believe AHDB’s continued search for knowledge and a greater understanding of these markets will help our levy payers maximise any potential opportunities and maintain their position as a world leader in food and farming for years to come.”