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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2010
38 YEARBOOK 2010 CATTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA Community communications AN UPDATE FROM MEAT & LIVESTOCK AUSTRALIA (MLA) Consumers' trust, or more broadly, the community's trust is essential. Trust in the safety, the quality, and more recently the ethics of how beef is produced, is required to maintain consumer confidence and demand for Australian beef. Globally, consumers are increasingly aware of, and interested in, the ethics of food production. Debate within the media and online forums around ethical considerations in making food choices is heating up, and meat, or more specifically, the environmental impact of beef, is the focus of much discussion. Relative to international standards, Australian's have a high level of concern for the environment. Awareness of the red meat industry's environmental impact is currently low, however, increased media coverage, and anti-meat campaigns such as 'Meat-free Monday', are raising awareness and concern over the environmental impact of beef production. COMMUNITY COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM The Meat Industry Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 has highlighted the need for our industry to enhance our environment and ethics communications by engaging more with consumers and customers to engender community support for the red meat industry. MLA commenced an environment communications program during 2009 in response to an increasing amount of criticism of the industry in the media. Advertisements were placed in the major metropolitan newspapers for Earth Hour (March 2009) and World Environment Day (June 2009). A brochure on the key facts about red meat and the environment "Care to know more" was also distributed to media and key stakeholders. The launch of the program was successful and provided a base from which to develop a more comprehensive communications program this year. CONSUMER RESEARCH FINETUNES THE STRATEGY To finetune the strategy and to ensure we had a clear understanding of consumers' perceptions of the impact of the industry on the broader environment, consumer research was undertaken earlier this year. The research incorporated various key messages to find out what style Engaging with consumers to engender community trust. and type of information best resonates with the urban population. The research highlighted that subconsciously consumers believe that cattle have the greatest environment impact amongst all meat types, hence it will be easy for them to believe negative reports. Also, with limited awareness and knowledge about the environmental impact of red meat at this stage, there is an opportunity for our industry to take leadership on this topic. But, if we take an aggressive approach to 'myth busting' this could unnecessarily raise issues that were not of immediate concern. Hence, the communications program for this year has been refined to take a more subtle, indirect approach to ensure the community remains confident that Australian beef and lamb farmers are trustworthy and ethical -- they care for their animals and look after their land to produce great tasting, healthy food. Producer environmental advocates will be key in delivering these messages with the highest level of credibility. The industry's environment R&D outcomes will also be utilised to set the foundation for sound science balanced debate on our environmental credentials. The campaign this year will include advertisements in newspaper and magazines, a new consumer website redmeatgreenfacts.com.au, consumer fact sheets, case studies on farmer advocates, media packs, and a social media component -- all supported by an intensive public relations 'blitz'. To measure the performance of the program, consumer perceptions towards red meat and the environment will be tracked. We aim to keep the percentage of consumers who reduce their red meat consumption due to the environment less than 5%, and maintain the high level of community trust in the red meat industry. Samantha Jamieson Community Communications Manager Meat and Livestock Australia