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AHDB publishes five-year pork sector plan

10th Nov 2022 / By Alistair Driver

AHDB has confirmed it will focus its pork levy spend on exports, marketing and the industry’s reputation over the next five years.

AHDB levy spendThe levy body has today announced five-year plans, from 2022 to 2027, for its four remaining sectors – Beef & Lamb, Cereals & Oilseeds, Dairy and Pork.

AHDB is expecting a reduced funding pot for pork from next year, from around £10m to £8m, mainly due to a reduction in levy due to industry contraction, but also because of a change in AHDB’s VAT status.

The strategy reveals that the levy will be divided between the three priority areas, with marketing allocated 40%, exports 33% and reputation 27%.

The exports work will focus on identifying lucrative markets and optimising access for all cuts. For example, while whole muscle can be exported to Mexico, extending that to include offal would give even greater benefit.

The marketing spend will aim to inspire shoppers to choose pork for both home cooking and eating out. 

This comes against the backdrop of an ongoing debate over the restrictions on direct use of ‘British’ marketing in AHDB’s pork campaigns, including the current Feed the Family for Less campaign. You can read more about that HERE.

The Reputational work will include vital aspects of AHDB’s work on:

  • Education
  • Animal health and welfare
  • The environment
  • Data and evidence.

The strong focus on education will including working in collaboration with the British Nutrition Foundation, providing material for schools and healthy eating week, and funding Ladies in Pigs. The reputational work will also include funding for randomised isotope testing to deter attempts to mislabel imported pig meats as British.

The priorities have been shaped by the responses provided to the sector councils through AHDB’s Shape the Future campaign, which gave levy payers the chance to say what work should be carried out by AHDB on their behalf. Sector councils have since been meeting during the summer and autumn to make funding decisions based on that feedback.

What is not being funded?

It has also announced some of the areas where reduced levy funding will no longer be spent. Current AHDB initiatives that will no longer be funded include, as announced on Friday, the Pig Health Scheme, the Real Welfare programmes and the employment tool Pig Pro.

The sector council says it has acted on clear messages from levy payers to amplify its work on marketing, exports and reputation, which will be underpinned by a foundation of aligned ‘pre-farmgate work’.

But prioritising this work, combined with a reduction in total income, means that some work must be reduced or stopped.

Levy value

Mike Sheldon AHDBAHDB pork sector council chair Mike Sheldon said: "It is vital for the levy to deliver the very best value.

"In May 2022, producers and processors representing over half of all pigs farmed and three-quarters of those processed, told us how they wanted their levy spent via AHDB’s Shape the Future vote.

"This turnout was an absolute credit to an industry that was under enormous strain at the time. It is symptomatic of the true grit, hope and determination that we need for the future.

"In the Shape the Future vote, you gave clear messages that your sector council has taken on board to direct the work of AHDB over the next five years."

NPA reaction

NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: "This looks like a sensible approach, given the constraints on levy funding AHDB will face in the future. We broadly agree with the priorities identified - export development is key to our ability to maximise the value of the carcase and AHDB has an important role in maintaining the industry's reputation. 

"Domestic market is also hugely important and it is essential that this work continue to be focused on effective promotion of British product.

"Of course, it is disappointing that funding in some areas is ceasing, but we understand the reasons for this. 

"It is important that this strategy is delivered effectively, providing levy payers with value for money. We will continue to support AHDB's work and and collaborate with it in future."