The second year of a campaign by the British levy bodies has succeeded in reaching 17 million people, helping to bring a more balanced perspective to public discussion around the health properties of red meat.
The collective initiative funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Promotion Wales, has undertaken a range of activity over the last 12 months to help counter misinformation in the media on the role of red meat in the diet, providing reassurance and evidence-based information to consumers regarding the important health benefits beef, lamb and pork provide.
A notable highlight was the programme’s consumer social media campaign, which saw reality TV star and entrepreneur Spencer Matthews cooking up wholesome, balanced meals for his three-quarters-of-a-million Instagram followers, while commentating on the health credentials of the beef, lamb and pork used in the dishes he prepared. Spencer’s lamb and pesto pizza, mini beef tacos and Thai green pork medallion curry recipe videos inspired an audience of 3.3 million online users, and were seen over 5.2 million times.
The campaign’s positive messaging continued to reach large social media audiences with its Blue Monday influencer programme, reminding followers that beef, lamb and pork naturally contain essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, vitamin B12, B6, niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2) and pantothenic acid (B5), all of which can help reduce tiredness and fatigue. Well-respected media medics, including Love Island’s Dr Alex George and nutritionist Dr Priya Tew, took to Instagram to inform their 1.7 million combined followers about these tiredness-busting properties, with their content viewed over 510k times.
AHDB, QMS and HCC have also continued to collaborate successfully with micro-influencers, working with BritMums to reach smaller but even more engaged social audiences - specifically mothers of children and teens - to promote healthy recipes featuring beef, lamb or pork. The content has reached over 1 million online users across Facebook, Instagram and blog sites, with 98% of engaged users agreeing they would be likely to try the recipes at home as a result of the posts.
The programme also launched the Food Advisory Board this year, a panel of leading experts in nutrition, agriculture and environmental science, drawing on their industry-leading expertise in order to support the promotion of a balanced diet.
These industry experts attended a number of health events, a priority for the levy-bodies being to reassure healthcare professionals that red meat can form an important part of a healthy, balanced diet for many patients. A particular highlight was the board’s appearance at Food Matters Live 2019, the UK’s largest annual health and nutrition exhibition. It was here that the official launch of the Food Advisory Board took place, with nutrition-focused members Nicola Ludlam-Raine, Hala El-Shafie and Dr Emma Derbyshire speaking at two separate seminar sessions hosted by food writer and BBC broadcaster Fiona Hunter.
The bodies have worked with the board to engage with trade media, place balanced and informative commentary across a wide range of national news outlets with a combined readership of 10 million, and have provided commentary for 14 major advertorials with a 3.3 million total reach. Included among these were pieces in the Mail Online (one of which was shared nearly 800 times), Healthier You and Good To Know, which informed the publications’ large readerships why NOT to cut meat from a balanced diet, emphasising the essential nutrients and minerals it provides to support optimum health and wellbeing.
Building on a successful year promoting evidence-based, health-focused information to millions of consumers, AHDB, HCC and QMS are already looking ahead. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the provision of evidence-based information on how to maintain a balanced diet at home is likely to be more essential than ever.
Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of QMS, said: “In an age of confusing, often contradictory headlines, and the differing viewpoints that current science and research present, it is vitally important that the role red meat plays in a healthy, balanced diet is communicated clearly and accurately to the public.
“We seek to provide evidence-based information in the interest of public health, to help consumers make informed nutritional choices instead of following trend-led diets or acting on sensationalised media claims.
“We are delighted to have worked with the experts on the Food Advisory Board this year, as well as with Spencer Matthews, Dr. Alex George, and many other supportive partners as we continue to drive public awareness on red meat’s many positive health credentials.”