Be imaginative in food marketing

15 May 1998

Be imaginative in food marketing

THE big four supermarkets will still be exerting their power in 10 to 15 years time, said NFU director general Richard MacDonald, who was one of four speakers invited to address the forum on Quality Production & Consumer Confidence conducted by the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Steering Group. But he urged young farmers not to forget the non-retail section, the niche markets and the caterers.

The restaurant trade had a turnover of £60bn, said Drew Smith, food designer and former editor of The Good Food Guide. Mr Smith also directed farmers attention to local marketing and the benefits to rural communities that could be gained when farmers sold their produce through local butchers, pubs and restaurants where it should be promoted as local produce.

Where meat was concerned, consumers like to know the breed of animal that was being presented to them, he said. "They like to know what they are eating, for example if it is a Hereford or an Aberdeen-Angus," and that too should be used as a selling point.

The source of products offered is one of the selling points for Taste of the West, and regional executive Diane Lethbridge described the progress of this 200-strong group of West Country speciality food and drink.producers.

Todays consumer has a cosmopolitan outlook, says Dr Richard Loader, lecturer in agriculture and food marketing topics at Reading Unviserity, and in reply to a question from the floor, Mr Smith pointed out that it may be easier to sell British produce in France than in Britain.

"If we were allowed to," commented the questioner with the beef ban in mind.

During the past year 300 clubs carried out conservation and community work and 82 of the projects were entered for the NatWest Countryside Challenge competiton. Kingsbridge YFC, Devon won the trophy, presented here by Brian Montgomery of NatWest. Loddon YFC, Norfolk, was second and Stratton & District YFC, Cornwall was third.

Thats entertainment… Young Farmers of Cornwall style. The NFU

Mutual trophy was awarded for entertainment this year and the five finalists appeared before a lively audience at the Princess Theatre on Sunday afternoon. The Cornwall federations production This Slice of Life, praised by the judges for its talent and originality, took the trophy while two members of the cast of Whitley Chapel YFCs production received the most promising actor and actress awards – Craig Nesbitt and Angela Symm, who each appeared as Imagination. (Report and pictures next week.)

Mark Lindley of Farmers Weekly Interactive shows Agricultural and Rural Affairs steering group chairman Gordon Brown the way into the internet during the

Interactive Workshop on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier in the day Mark had announced outline plans for a competition to be run by farmers weekly and Farmplan in association with NFYFC. This will be open to all YFC members in the 16 to 26 age group in England, Wales, Scotland and Ulster and to members of Macra na Fierme in Eire. Prizes will include computers, hardware, software and access to Farmers Weekly Interactive (FWi). Details will appear in Farmlife on Jun 12.

The early stages of the Ripped Rags Ball with dancing to Crazy Ape and Pleasuredrome Disco, which took place on the third and final night of the convention. On Friday night dancing was to Gee Baby I Love You and on Saturday it was to One Step Behind – the ultimate Madness tribute band.

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