Part of the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), the group gathers representatives from various levy boards and trade organisations from around the world to discuss the protein sector.
The brainchild of Laura Ryan of Meat Business Women and Ashley Gray of the World Butchers’ Challenge, the communications initiative seeks to improve dialogue within the meat industry on a global scale in order to share best practice information and insights.
Speaking to GlobalMeatNews, Gray discusses how the initiative came about and what it hopes to achieve.
“Laura and I first met through IMS when we both attended the World Meat Congress in Uruguay. We are both leading global meat projects (the World Butchers’ Challenge and Meat Business Women) and also have a background working for levy boards on either side of the globe – myself in New Zealand and Laura in the UK. About 18 months ago, we formed the idea of a global pro-active communications initiative and started conversations with industry universally.
Although the idea has been in the pipeline for some time, it was only when the coronavirus pandemic happened that things sped up due to necessity. The group now meets online on a weekly basis to discuss the industry.
“COVID-19 has allowed us to trial a concept with IMS at speed with the initial six weeks being funded by 18 trade/levy organisations across the world. The feedback has been extremely positive and commercial businesses as well as levy boards and trade associations have now joined us.
“Together we’ve been exploring this concept for quite some time and sometimes it’s difficult to quantify the power of an international network and how it can help individual countries. However, COVID-19 has allowed us to run the proof of concept. The pace of change across our sector has been matched by the pace of insight we collate, develop and share from right across the world bespoke to the meat sector.”
Gray explained why the industry needs to communicate in this manner.
“Having the macro view of what is happening globally will enable better decisions and stronger outcomes locally. The ethos behind this initiative is really – ‘many hands, make light work’. The more insight and knowledge we can capture, the stronger the outcomes.”
Although in action just over a month, Gray said the group has already paid massive dividends in terms of shared information and insight. “In the space of just four weeks, we’ve witnessed huge tangible benefits of shared insight within a pre-competitive space including how to pivot domestic marketing campaigns, what conversations we should be front-footing with the media and how what the new normal looks like in China for protein consumption.
Rebranding the meat industry
As well as the immediate impact of the coronavirus on the meat industry, the group also looks at “Long-term, and COVID 19 aside, as consumer behaviour evolves globally there’s an increased focus on sustainability, animal welfare and human health related to livestock production and consumption. Producers and processors of meat are operating in an increasingly hostile environment with the constant stream of negative messages about meat consumption. Standalone domestic campaigns focus on local production methods and their sustainability criteria and aim to give consumers permission to eat meat, highlighting the benefits of balanced consumption. But there is not a single global approach.
“We believe we can build on the global connectivity we’ve achieved so far and deliver an inter-industry communication service which would share best practice internationally. Not only to support organisations individually but equally help to shift consumer perceptions and trust in our sector universally – a chance to ‘rebrand’ the meat industry.”
Gray adds that anyone involved in the meat industry can have their voice heard through the initiative.
“Any organisation working in the meat industry is welcome to join the conversation as we scope out the future of this initiative, we’re openly looking towards the group to help steer us in the right direction.”