EU - A €7.7 million (£6.17m) campaign to encourage more people to cook with lamb across six European countries is to be launched thanks to a co-promotion deal EBLEX has secured with the European Union, Ireland and France.
The organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England, together with colleagues at Bord Bia and Interbev, has secured 50 per cent financial support for the campaign from Europe, aimed at arresting a decline in sheep meat consumption and production, amounting to about 25 per cent since 2000.
The partners petitioned the EU Commission to include sheep meat as an eligible product for support under the EU promotion of agricultural products legislation and started working on a joint member states promotion programme as soon as the legislation was amended.
The three-year programme will see an annual investment of €1.5 million (£1.19m) from EBLEX, Bord Bia and Interbev matched by the EU, across England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark – target markets identified as having significant potential.
It seeks to increase consumer awareness of the importance of European lamb production, increase consumer awareness of lamb as a versatile daily-use meat and raise the likelihood of purchases by five per cent among consumers.
The announcement of the agreement was made at the SIAL food exhibition in Paris on Monday, one of the largest food events in the world, held every two years and expecting in excess of 160,000 visitors, including the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Liz Truss.
“This is fantastic news for sheep meat producers and a lot of hard work has been undertaken to get us here,” said Nick Allen, sector director for EBLEX.
“Major European sheep meat producing countries have a shared interest in working together to tackle the decline in sheep meat consumption. We can achieve more together and this agreement from the EU is testament to that.
“With the EU matching our investment, it means we can punch above our weight and reach more consumers with the work we do, with the overall aim of stimulating demand for sheep meat.
“If we can raise demand across the category, it is good for all concerned.”
He added that he would like to thank all involved from all three organisations for their hard work on the programme, which will start in earnest in spring 2015.
England, Ireland and France have a strong track record of working together to stimulate demand for lamb through the Agneau Presto campaign in France, which has been running for the last six years.
It has helped to diversify the lamb offer on shelves and to increase by 3.5 per cent lamb purchases by shoppers under 35 in 2012, and by one per ent in 2013.
The new campaign will target the 25 to 45-year-old age group and encompass online communications, work with food bloggers and journalists, in-store merchandising, incentives for butchers and print advertising.
It will link with existing EBLEX initiatives to boost demand for lamb in England.
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