Shape the future of pork

At AHDB, the levy payer is at the centre of everything we do. That’s why we’re asking you to tell us what you want from us.

Shape the future explained

Our sector councils have identified key 'priorities' which they think are important to pork farmers and processors. The priorities are shown below with blue headings and marked A, B, C….

Each priority contains 'streams' of work which show how we at AHDB are working to meet those priorities. The work streams for each priority are titled in green and numbered 1, 2, 3…

Please read through them, using the links for more information, and decide how important you think each priority and work stream is to you and your business.

From 11 April, you will then be able to rate how important you think these priorities are to you and your business through the shape the future portal.

The Pork Sector Council has identified the following five priorities for the industry:

(A) Selling every part of the pig for the best financial return at home in the UK or overseas

(B) Protecting the reputation of pork and promoting its benefits to consumers

(C) Improving animal health and welfare, reducing disease, and demonstrating high standards

(D) Demonstrating that the pork industry takes its impact on the environment seriously and is improving

(E) Improving profitability to remain competitive at home and overseas

(A) Selling every part of the pig for the best financial return at home in the UK or overseas

1. Promoting pork exports to overseas markets

Getting the best value for produce means selling the whole of the pig in a variety of markets. We work to create demand for pork products by developing and maintaining domestic and overseas markets, and helping the industry give the customer what they want and will enjoy. We promote British pork in new and existing markets on your behalf, investing over £19 million in marketing and export development every year. In recent years, our pig meat has been exported to almost 100 countries.

Our work can reduce over-reliance on single markets by identifying multiple opportunities. This reduces the level of risk involved in selling your products, giving you more choice and a better chance of getting a higher price. 

Activities include:

  • We work with the Government and processors to gain access to new markets. We focus on developing international markets for British exporters and engage with the supply chains in several regions. We were involved in the recent access agreement with Mexico, valued at £50 million over the next five years
  • We have representatives in key international markets, e.g. China, who coordinate and lead our in-country export activity. This has proved hugely valuable given recent travel restrictions
  • We showcase British pork at international trade fairs and host British exporters at events such as Foodex Japan to provide them with a platform to meet potential clients, develop existing relationships and showcase the best of British products to a global audience. Our Exporting Britain to the World video showcases British farming and British products
  • We monitor consumer behaviour internationally, and analyse new markets to understand the potential demand for your produce
  • We work with governments and key stakeholders to facilitate trading opportunities which bring value for levy payers

2. Pork consumer marketing campaigns

We produce high-profile consumer marketing campaigns designed to give farmers a platform and a voice to present the facts about food and farming from the UK. We are the only organisation that allows the farming industry to have a collective voice and respond when necessary to protect and promote its value, both nutritionally and environmentally. We run campaigns to drive up domestic demand for pork, support retaining consumption habits and inspire new occasions to eat pork. These campaigns ensure consumers are reminded of the ease, convenience and value of pork. Our campaigns in 2017–2020 reached over 90% of UK households.

Activities include:

  • Our events and shows give levy payers a chance to meet other farmers and build strong industry relationships and take part in these efforts to bolster the pork industry’s reputation directly. We also attend outside events on your behalf to speak about the benefits of the industry
  • Our Love Pork consumer marketing website promotes the nutritional value of pork, and provides time-saving recipes. The Mix up Midweek with Pork marketing campaign has delivered over £37 million in incremental retail sales for pork in the last three years. It appeared on TV, in print and digital advertising, and in retailers, and reached more than 85% of UK households
  • Eight out of ten people agreed that seeing our advertisements made them want to buy pork. And for every £1 spent on consumer marketing, each yearly campaign generated on average £6.75 return on retail sales
  • The January 2022 Pork campaign focused on healthy eating, and included a butcher’s kit of recipes and low-calorie menus to give out to customers

(B) Protecting the reputation of pork and promoting its benefits to consumers

1. Educating consumers of the future

Children are the consumers of tomorrow. They are key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the UK food and farming industry. Through our education work, we are committed to increasing children’s understanding of where and how their food is grown, reared and produced.

Activities include:

2. Protecting and enhancing the reputation of the industry

We work to understand the needs of modern food consumers, and how their attitudes towards cooking, buying, and eating influence the whole supply chain. We aim to influence consumer attitudes and perceptions around pork by producing high-profile consumer marketing campaigns, to give farmers a platform and a voice to present the facts about food and farming from the UK. Because we are independent we are trusted to bring balance and insight, which helps build a positive reputation for the farming industry.

We work with others across the industry to have a collective voice and respond when necessary to protect and promote its value, both nutritionally and environmentally.

We are regularly contacted by TV and newspapers and make sure that they’re given the facts to fairly represent the industry and where appropriate, we also provide spokespeople.

We also have a strong record in challenging misinformation. Anyone in the farming industry knows that at times it comes under fire from competitors, individuals and the media looking to damage its reputation. Recent successes include:

3. Our ‘We Eat Balanced’ consumer marketing campaign

Our We Eat Balanced campaign is another way that we promote meat, and other produce, to the consumer as a positive food choice, using data and evidence to promote the value of eating British products. It is aimed at positively influencing attitudes and purchase intent of consumers who are considering reducing their consumption of meat and dairy. This kind of publicity shows the role British agriculture plays in a balanced and sustainable diet. We are the only organisation that allows the industry to have a collective voice in this way.

Activities include:

  • We Eat Balanced ran during September 2021 and January-February 2022 to inform consumers about the UK’s sustainability credentials, along with health messages promoting pork as a natural source of vitamin B12
  • The advert featured across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, and we ran promotions across eight major supermarket chains, newspapers and social media
  • Last September, our campaign videos were seen over 5.5 million times across social media, while the 2022 campaign burst is generating over 30 million impressions

(C) Improving animal health and welfare, reducing disease, and demonstrating high standards

1. Animal health and welfare

The pig industry has made huge strides in recent years to prevent the spread of disease, reduce antibiotic use, increase understanding of pig behaviour and improve the physical environment on-farm. We work alongside key stakeholders such as Red Tractor, the Pig Veterinary Society and the National Pig Association. We provide the following tools and services to help producers, processors and vets to keep improving pig health and welfare and prevent disease. Most are accessible via Pig Hub, our one-stop-shop for producers. This protects the reputation of the industry and ultimately helps control disease.

Activities include:

  • The electronic medicine book for pigs (eMB-Pigs) provides a central place to record accurate on-farm antibiotic usage data and monitor progress towards reduction targets. It is a website available to all UK producers, and has recorded a 60% reduction in antibiotic use across 94% of finished pigs since it was introduced in 2016
  • The Pig Health Scheme provides post-mortem data on pigs to help monitor herd health. It is free to all producers, and highlights diseases that they may not be aware of, such as a low-level cough, providing a baseline of the health status of a herd. After you have signed up you receive reports automatically after each Pig Health Scheme assessment at the abattoir. The reports helps you monitor the effects of management changes and make more informed decisions. The anonymised data also means your herd health status can be compared against that of other members of the scheme
  • Our Real Welfare scheme provides the largest database of its kind for measuring pig ‘welfare outcomes’. It provides information to help drive further welfare improvements on farms and across the industry. Real Welfare assessments, carried out by vets, on samples of finisher pigs are a requirement of both the Red Tractor Pigs Scheme and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) Pigs Assurance Scheme, bringing the coverage of Real Welfare to approximately 95% of all pigs produced in the UK. This anonymised data set, amalgamated across all units, enables us to monitor welfare outcomes across the whole industry
  • We run the eAML2 pig movement system for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). It records all movements of pigs within England and Wales, and provides essential information in the event of a disease outbreak to help inform plans to reduce further spread
  • We developed the UK Pig Industry Welfare Training platform with the National Pig Association (NPA), Red Tractor and the Pig Veterinary Society among others. The training platform helps to ensure a consistent and high level of welfare across the pig industry, and demonstrates that we are a responsible industry that takes the care and welfare of our livestock seriously. Everyone involved in the care, moving, and handling of pigs needs to complete online welfare training as part of Red Tractor standards. We also provide online guidance on moving and handling pigs
  • The Significant Diseases Charter has an important role in sharing information quickly with other producers in the event of a swine dysentery or PEDv outbreak, as it helps prevent further spread of the disease
  • Our Farm Excellence programme is about making real change on farm, through a wide-reaching platform of activity which allows farmers and producers to learn from one of their most trusted sources – each other. Producers have an opportunity to join a local group and join the conversation, whether it’s on the latest practical research or the challenges facing farming businesses, it’s a chance to learn from other farmers:
    • Precision Pig is a trial we are funding to look at the value of data for the producer, throughout the pig production process. The project champions traceability throughout pig production, using better data visualisation and automation of data capture to save labour and reduce errors
    • Our Strategic Farms help us develop a wealth of tools, resources and key learnings for others to put into practice on their own farms
    • Our web pages are updated with all of our farm excellence topics, tools and more for you to explore in your own time, whatever the hour
  • We also offer tools and services on:

(D) Demonstrating that the pork industry takes its impact on the environment seriously and is improving

1. Support the pork industry to deliver environmental improvement

Our independent expertise, delivered online and through our monitor farms, Pig Clubs and events, enables you to make your business more productive and profitable while lowering carbon emissions and impact on the environment. We also protect farmers and the industry from unfair criticism, by providing facts to the media, Government, and the supply chain, challenge misrepresentation, and showcase the high standards of the industry. Our Pork Roadmap tracks improvements in the industry.

Activities include:

  • Ammonia emissions:
    • Our dedicated slurry cooling hub, which equips pig producers with the correct resources, guidance, and tools to understand options for implementing slurry cooling on a farm. A ‘how-to’ animation demonstrates the core components of the process. Slurry cooling not only reduces ammonia emissions by up to three-quarters, but the heat extracted can heat livestock housing and therefore reduce heating costs
    • We are part of the PigProGrAm project to reduce the environmental impact of ammonia emissions from livestock. This will help the UK to meet its legally binding, international targets to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by 16% by 2030
  • Our GrowSave knowledge exchange programme helps identify where energy savings can be made across a business
  • Our WeatherHub provides the latest weather updates, including temperature, rainfall, sunshine duration and solar radiation, to help you make informed decisions about animal movements, soil management and pest control
  • Provision of independent evidence and support to inform government policies, such as the Farming Rules for Water
  • To help you meet reporting requirements on Environmental Permitting Regulations our website has templates, guidance and podcasts

Our research aims to help our levy payers increase energy efficiencies, reduce carbon emissions, improve business performance and, ultimately, save money. Current research includes:

  • International agreements on air pollution mean the UK farming industry is required to achieve a 16% reduction in ammonia emissions by 2030. Our accelerated ammonia monitoring trial shows that the British pig industry is successfully reducing ammonia emissions, saving producers an estimated £15.3 million
  • Our research into energy efficiency helps to identify areas where improvements can be made. Examples include the use of air scrubbers, and how businesses can implement what are sometimes complex processes for achieving energy efficiency

We are partnering with BBSRC to carry out research to help the farming industry transition to more sustainable practices, and ultimately net zero carbon by 2040. The research will include management of organic materials and livestock breeding.

(E) Improving profitability to remain competitive at home and overseas

Using market intelligence analysis

We provide you with independent information on Pork markets, trade policy and consumer trends. For instance, the market and trade data published in Farmers Weekly and Farmer’s Guardian comes from us. This includes factors that influence price changes, production costs, changes in consumer behaviours and the labour market. Understanding both the global market and local impacts of shifts in supply, demand and consumer tastes means you can plan your business more effectively.

We also provide robust and independent data and analysis to the supply chain, trade bodies and Government so that informed decisions can be made. Our market intelligence work provides the basis for tools such as the Farm Business Review service which can be used to make on-farm decisions. Our evidence increases the chance of decisions being made in the best interest of both individual levy payers and the industry as a whole.

Activities include:

  • Our Pork Weekly e-newsletter and monthly Pink Pages within Pig World provide valuable market information
  • Our Pork Talk market update videos are a quick and easy way to keep on top of the latest trends every month, while our Horizon reports, such as this one on the Australian market, take a more in-depth look at market movements
  • Our UK pig meat outlook provides insights into trends across the pig sector, together with our production and trade forecasts
  • Our Agri-Market Outlook comes out twice a year, highlighting trends and what to look out for in each sector. And the Farm Inputs Overview gives an insight into recent trends in the farm inputs and feed, together with an outlook for animal feed ingredients

2. People working in agriculture and labour supply 

We deliver a programme to help farmers get the skills they need to secure a professional, confident workforce to keep pace with emerging technologies and innovation. We work with industry to identify what specialist skills are needed and deliver training in these areas.

We offer training courses to pig unit staff across the country, both in person and online (our popular ‘Principles of pig production’ series is accessible 24/7 via our website). Courses address skills at every level, from new stockpeople through to unit managers and business owners. The training follows a logical progression of skills development, which helps career planning and advancement.

Activities include:

  • We work with the National Pig Association (NPA), British Pig Association (BPA), pig vets and others to identify what specialist skills are needed and put plans in place to deliver training in these areas
  • We help set standards, for example, we joined forces with NFU and industry employers to set standards for six Trailblazer Apprenticeship schemes, including ones for stockperson, packhouse line leader and livestock unit technician
  • Business users can keep track of both their own and their employees training via PigPro, our free online training record
  • Our AgriLeader programme provides a platform where you can meet other farmers, exchange ideas, and learn from experts and peers. The programme focuses on how farmers can better lead themselves, lead their people and lead their businesses. The programme offers something for everyone: from AgriLeader Bitesize short talks to our two-day flagship event the AgriLeader Forum
  • We identify training needs within the industry and provide solutions (e.g. the pig handling training module), which demonstrates our high standards compared to other countries, helping to safeguard sales at home and overseas
  • Our SmartPork programme supports pig producers/unit managers while they explore their business operating processes in detail in order to find ways to improve efficiency. Together we’ve applied process control and Lean management principles across gilt and/or weaner management to find practical ways of making savings
  • We use data to identify the scale and impact of labour issues, and provide evidence to Government and stakeholders to support the industry to address them. We will identify problems in the quantity or quality of labour supply to the pork industry, by gathering evidence. We will then provide the evidence to Government and stakeholders to ensure support is provided for the industry (e.g. 800 visas for skilled butchers to work in this country)

Back to: Shape the future