A spring promotional campaign for Welsh lamb and beef, launched after the coronavirus lockdown disrupted the food and farming sector, scored over a million hits online and a million reach for its radio advertising.

In March, the closure of important outlets for premium meats such as hotels and restaurants, together with panic-buying of cheaper products such as mince, meant that a major consumer campaign was needed to persuade the public to cook more adventurous meals at home.

Meat promotion body Hybu Cig Cymru enlisted a ‘culinary dozen’ of the most famous Welsh chefs to produce social media videos to inspire home cooks, and invested heavily in advertising on commercial radio, as well as press and online adverts and associated consumer competitions to promote the purchase of steaks and roasting joints.

Newly-released analysis of the campaign’s impact shows that the 916 advertising slots over commercial radio reached 1,013,067 hits, whereas the social media reach of cooking videos filmed at home by top chefs such as Bryn Williams, Hywel Griffith and Gareth Ward has totalled 1,121,830 so far.

In addition, HCC partnered with England’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland to mount the £1.2m ‘Make It’ campaign to generate awareness for high quality British red meat. Eight weeks of a digital campaign generated over 187 million opportunities for consumers to see delicious beef recipe inspiration.

According to HCC brand marketing executive Philippa Gill, the campaigns have seen tangible results in terms of increased sales.

“We started our Welsh lamb and Welsh beef campaign in March, when the markets were very unstable following the loss of important foodservice outlets, to inspire consumers to purchase more premium cuts," she said.

"By May, total sales of beef steaks were running at 40 per cent above the previous year, and independent butchers were seeing nearly 50 per cent more custom for beef and were selling 25 per cent more lamb.”

Philippa explained that the key to both the Welsh and wider GB marketing campaigns was understanding how people’s habits had changed during lockdown.

“Within a month of the lockdown, people were spending much more time online – almost a quarter of their waking hours on average – so promoting recipes from our star chefs over Instagram and Facebook was crucial for us,” she said.

“Consumers have responded very positively – many have come back to buying fresh beef and lamb as a sustainable, traceable and nutritious food produced by trusted farmers.

“We’ve also had great support from Welsh celebrities who got involved with our online steak sandwich competition, and from processors and retailers right across Britain in helping with promotions, linking in with UK Barbecue Week at the start of the summer.”

HCC is pressing ahead with similar plans for its forthcoming summer PGI Welsh lamb campaign beginning on August 1, again in co-ordination with a broader GB-wide lamb initiative with AHDB and QMS.