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AHDB announces restructure to get 'fit for the future'

16th Jan 2018 / By Alistair Driver

AHDB is to restructure its exports, trade and consumer marketing teams to ensure it is ‘fit for the future’.

AHDB pork logoThe changes are likely to see a small number of redundancies but will also offer new opportunities, the levy body said. These include, among others, the creation of a new Head of Domestic Marketing role charged with delivering a single overarching consumer marketing offering for all of AHDB’s sectors. There will also be new roles in AHDB's digital and international events teams to proactively promote products at home and abroad.

There will also be new heads of export roles for the red meat sector based on high growth markets like Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East/Africa and, longer term, the Americas, reflecting a drive from the industry to open up new markets for British products outside the EU. The new roles follow on from the appointment in 2015 of Karen Morgan as the UK’s first Agriculture and Food Counsellor in China – a post funded by AHDB.

AHDB hopes the restructure, which will be completed by April, will deliver savings in excess of £750,000 over two years, which it is intended to reinvest back into communications, events, online promotion, export and domestic marketing campaign activity. It said the changes would achieve better value for money for levy payers.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s chief officer for communications and market development, said the proposals herald a move to a 'more agile and streamlined approach to consumer marketing campaigns, enhanced relationships with retailers and an export team ready to seize post-Brexit opportunities to open new markets'.  

“AHDB export and marketing work is an important investment our farmers, growers and industry make through their levy, totalling around £16 million per year. We need to invest this money in the most efficient and effective way and, in a post-Brexit world, we need to be structured to deliver where we can make the most positive impact.

“By making some tough decisions, as we have already done in the recent past, we will have an export, trade and marketing team which is flexible, closely aligned and working to a common agenda.”

AHDB said the restructure would not affect the current pork marketing campaign.

AHDB staff turnover 

Separately, AHDB Pork has stressed that its capacity to deliver key services for levy payers has been unaffected by the high staff turnover it is currently experiencing.

The levy body has seen the departure of a number of high profile figures over the past year or so, including: Stephen Howarth (market specialist at AHDB, joined Agricultural Engineers Association), Martin Smith (veterinary, BQP), Steve Winfield (knowledge exchange, Hipra), Katja Stoddart (welfare, Defra), Lucy Coyne (veterinary, Liverpool University) and Emily Bailey-Beech (food safety, Integra). Other well-known figures, including Sue Rabbich (environment) and some still to be officially announced, are due to depart soon.

The loss of all this expertise in a relatively short time has prompted some concern among levy payers over AHDB’s ability to deliver on its ambitious three-year strategy.

An AHDB spokesperson said all but one of the recent leavers had been replaced, while the process of recruiting those about to leave was underway. 

For more on this story, see Pig World