Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive Ian Stevenson recently participated in an International Meat Secretariat (IMS) marketing and communication meeting, which focused on the use of social media in the beef sector.

The global membership event provided the delegates taking part with an opportunity to reflect on the impact of Covid-19 and the many other developments, that have impacted on the international red meat sector over the past number of months.

IMS acts as a global forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences on issues influencing the meat and livestock sector.

“One of the key take-home messages from the meeting was the very beneficial impact that Covid has had, from the specific point of view that its associated lockdowns have encouraged people around the world to reacquaint themselves with the very high quality food that is grown on their doorsteps,” Stevenson commented.

“We have found this to be the case here in NI (Northern Ireland), with NI Farm Quality Assured beef and lamb benefitting accordingly.”

Need for promotion of the beef sector

“The overall tone of the meeting was extremely positive, with the need identified for marketing and promotional bodies around the world to go on the offensive in telling the good news about beef and lamb, which sets them apart from all other foods,” Stevenson continued.

“A case in point is the fact that red meat and milk both represent uniquely valuable sources of Vitamin B12, which is hugely important for the functioning of the human body and health of the nervous system.”

The LMC representative went on to specifically highlight the presentation made to the meeting by officials from the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB).

The presentation profiled work currently underway to use technology to deliver the strongest positive message to groups discussing the complete gamut of issues pertaining to beef production and consumption on social media.

He explained:

“This work is showing tremendous promise. Its aim is to deliver a consistently positive narrative where red meat is concerned, and to actively participate in conversations, whether they take place on Twitter or any other social media platform.”

According to Stevenson, over 8,000 conversations a month were reported to be taking place on Twitter in the UK alone regarding red meat – with 47% specifically relating to beef.

Social media to educate

“These interactions, which are being worked on, will be very positive in nature and will seek to educate and inform those taking part, on the very positive role that red meat can play in the diet and the sustainability of the production practices followed by livestock farmers throughout the UK,” he said.

 “AHDB is working on the development of I.T systems that will allow the organisation to participate in these conversations on both an automated and real-time basis.

“This active involvement will have the sole aim of feeding into these conversations, the positive attributes concerning beef and lamb,” Stevenson added.

“No attempt will be made to counter specific claims made by those pressure groups using social media to actively develop so-called fake debates, regarding the production of beef and lamb.

“Rather, it will be about presenting factual evidence and bringing some balance to these often one-sided and misleading conversations,” he concluded.