Farmers get the balance right on health trust

Farmers are getting better at telling the story behind the food they produce, according to new research by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

Dairy farmer Liz Haines
Dairy farmer Liz Haines

And to take advantage of the level of trust highlighted in a recent survey - which showed that consumers had greater faith in farmers than in any of the other players in the food supply chain - livestock and dairy producers will play a central role in the latest AHDB promotional campaign, the £3.5 million We Eat Balanced initiative.

A network of 100 farmers from across the UK – including nine from Scotland - will help promote and share the central message across social media during the first part of the new campaign which runs through autumn and into the New Year.

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Throughout September and the first half of October, farmers are highlighting the benefits of beef, pork, lamb and milk, which contain vitamin B12, an essential nutrient not naturally present in plant-based foods.

They will also be sharing the world-class food and farming standards of UK meat and dairy production, which is some of the most sustainable in the world.

And with ongoing trade negotiations raising a wider debate around food import standards in the run up to COP 26, AHDB’s campaign will share the story of farming in Britain in the form of short videos to cut through the noise on social media.

AHDB’s head of marketing Liam Byrne said the autumn phase of the campaign would be followed up in January with a new TV advert and supporting social media campaign:

“The pilot We Eat Balanced campaign which ran in January this year showed consumers were receptive to messages reminding them of the role beef, lamb, pork and dairy can play in a balanced diet.

“It also positively shifted consumer attitudes towards the health benefits of meat (six per cent) and dairy (nine per cent), while increasing the likeliness of customers purchasing those products by 11 per cent and three per cent respectively.”

Byrnes said that consumer trust in farmers and their role in food production had been shown to be robust and the campaign would build on that with a focus on producers sharing their stories about how they farmed and their role in maintaining the country’s landscape and environment.

Dairy farmer Liz Haines welcomed the return of the campaign stating that it gave the opportunity to challenging misinformed messages regularly seen in the press and on social media.

“Seeing campaigns like We Eat Balanced gives people the reassurance they can make healthy and sustainable choices when they choose to eat meat and dairy and that is a really important message for the future of British farming.”

Meanwhile AHDB Monitor pig farmer Fergus Howie said farmers needed the chance to put the record straight. He added: “During the past five years, I have witnessed myself how the media landscape has radically changed.

“Social media has a power I am not sure many of us could have predicted, where opinions, instead of facts, are widely reported and perpetuated.”

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