Isle of Man Meats has made significant progress during 2019 and secured several major contracts which have grown the market for high quality Manx produce both on and off-Island.
High quality meat, traceability from pasture to plate, low food miles, and high standards of animal welfare, are all key selling points which are becoming increasingly important for consumers. Here on the Island consumer research commissioned by Isle of Man Meats showed that shoppers also wanted help with identifying genuine local meat produce from Manx farms. So, early this year, the company launched its ‘Make Sure It’s Manx’ campaign with product labels and in-store signage in butchers shops.
In March, Isle of Man Meats announced its first strategic partnership – a major deal with Suffolk-based Northgate Foods which is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of fresh and frozen meat. Growing the market for high quality Manx meat off-Island was one of the strategic goals when Isle of Man Meats was restructured in March 2018, so it was a significant development and good news for Isle of Man Meats, and its producer network of more than 200 livestock farms here on the Island.
The spring and summer saw several key appointments as Isle of Man Meats continued recruiting highly experienced and skilled staff while also improving its technical capabilities, and achieving widely recognised industry accreditations. The latter included the company retaining its Grade A status following a rigorous, independent, annual audit by BRC Global Standards. October saw the start of a three year partnership between Isle of Man Meats and Trade Distribution Limited. All of these developments were important building blocks that formed a firm foundation for ambitious plans to expand the market for Manx meat both on and off-Island.
After months of planning and preparations – plus investment in people, processes and equipment, and support from the Isle of Man’s Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) as part of the Food Matters Strategy – Isle of Man Meats announced a partnership with Tesco in November. A range of products are now available to consumers, and from day one sales exceeded the expectations of both Isle of Man Meats and Tesco. Feedback from shoppers has been very positive too, and plans are already being made to extend the product range.
Reflecting on 2019, Isle of Man Meats Chairman, Tim Baker MHK, commented: “When the business was restructured in March 2018, the Isle of Man Meats Board and management team set out a clear strategic plan. We are really pleased with the strategic targets that have been met in 2019. Of course, there is much more work to be done and more targets to be achieved, but our key achievements this year will help to build confidence as we move into 2020 and beyond. Agriculture is really important to the Isle of Man not only in economic terms, but also because of its positive contribution to the community and landscape. Isle of Man Meats is an important part of the Island’s agricultural ecosystem which connects producers to key markets, returning cash back to the industry and supporting the local economy. In that context success for Isle of Man Meats is also very good news for the agriculture sector, and the Isle of Man generally – so the achievements in 2019 are something that everyone who cares about the Island’s future should celebrate.”