27 November 1998

Producers new brand image is money-spinner

In the third of our series on

farmer-run marketing groups,

James Garner looks at a

Lincs group that has used

EU funding and marketing

initiatives to produce a

locally branded product

TARGETING local butchers shops and creating a brand image product is gaining livestock from the Lincolnshire Quality Beef and Lamb marketing group premium prices.

On average stock receives 12% more than market values and its low fees of £25 annual membership plus £2/beast and 25p/lamb sold should show a healthy return.

A few weeks ago lambs from the group achieved £5/head more than average in the live market. Michael Read, Brook House, Hemingby, Horncastle, Lincs, who is one of six farmers serving on the companys governing board, says: "Some producers may argue this is because they are quality livestock. To an extent this is true, although our members also have moderate animals."

Assisted by EU Objective 5b funding LQBL have embraced marketing initiatives, logos and promotion. Its produce is easily identified in butchers and Co-Op shops throughout Lincs by the hungry stockman logo – its brand image. Supermarket power is lower in Lincs which has a high proportion of butchers shops, 160 to its 600,000 population.

LQBL hopes to promote quality, traceable meat produced within the region, whilst also trading in live auction markets and with abattoirs serving the area.

"Members have a choice of outlets within the 5b area including three participating abattoirs or live markets at Louth, Horncastle, Newark and hopefully Grantham which has applied for membership.

Live markets participation is valuable helping boost the groups membership and stock throughput. Supporting them is also part of the LQBL philosophy.

Since LQBL began in April 1998, 88 producers and 35 butchers shops have joined and marketed 3000 lambs and 850 cattle. However, it needs five producers to supply every butcher so more producers are needed, says Mr Read.

Recruitment of members is not easy in a difficult economic environment and there are tough criteria that producers and processors have to meet. "They all have to be FABBL registered, farm within Lincs and have sheep on their farms for a minimum of 28 days and cattle for 70 days.

It took two years for the group to become operational, because of difficulties assessing how many producers would be willing to join.

"It was hard to obtain a list of producers because of the data protection act. We had to use our contacts with the Lincoln Red Cattle society and FABBL.

"MLC were involved and used their experience with other marketing groups to develop a business plan to secure 5b funding.

The group has to operate without financial help by 2001. "We need to market 5000 cattle and 30,000 lambs from about 300 producers by 2001," says Mr Read.


&#8226 5b funding until 2001.

&#8226 Supplying butchers shops.

&#8226 Using abattoirs and live markets.

5b guidelines

"Its now too late to obtain 5b money because its been spent," says Martin Palmer, head of industry strategy and consultancy, MLC.

However, more assistance for producer marketing schemes may become available once Agenda 2000 details are formalised.