Case Studies

Here we look in rather more detail at a couple of projects - what was involved, our advice and what has happened since:

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Initiative on Food Marketing

This was set up in the early 90's to see how the UK food gap of some 7 billion might be reduced.

Our brief was to consider whether the fragmented nature of British agriculture matters and if so what to do.

In order to do this project, we looked at all the key farming sectors and interacted heavily right across the food chain i.e. Farmers, processors and retailers.

It involved all the key skills of marketing, strategy, policy analysis and communication. We used a variety of approaches; formal interviews, Focus Groups and Workshops.

Our basic conclusions were:

  • Fragmentation is costing British agriculture dearly especially in Red meat. Farmers must see themselves as part of the food chain. Indeed, there is a yawning gap between the requirements as articulated by end users such as retailers and the understanding of these needs by primary producers. However, the latter was not true in fresh produce.
  • The best manufacturers can make the virtuous circle of an integrated supply chain work - but producers must be involved (and most are not) and current marketing groups are not sufficiently market led.
  • Our recommendations focused on the 3 L's - Leadership (by the industry), Light (via communication) and Leverage (programmes by government to accelerate change).
  • We believe that significant changes in line with these recommendations have been made - though of course not just because of our advice! But there is still a way to go and many of the ideas and proposals still stand.

Read the Executive Summary of our report in full,
and optionally download the document to read off-line

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Institute of Food Research

IFR has a budget of some 16 million per year and, in relation to other BBSRC institutes, has a relatively low level of external, non-core income. This position needs to be put in the context of the higher proportion of resource which is directed at Food Safety which generally is supported via the public-sector.

We were asked in 1996 to work with IFR over 12 months to increase industrial funding.

Our activities included:

  • Customer discussions - to find out both the opportunity for increased support of IFR science and to understand user perceptions of IFR.
  • Specific seminars on exploitable technology.
  • Organising visits by scientists into food companies and factories.
  • Greater focus on need and opportunity when clients visit IFR.
  • Improved use of the client database, focused visit programme and managed follow-up of such interaction.
  • Communication around the Institute of where to find market intelligence.
  • A general focus on a more client oriented culture in the IFR, via all these activities.
  • Provision of more accurate forward workload estimates by department.
  • Identifying some mega-projects.

Naturally not everything worked and nor did all the scientists welcome our ideas with open arms. However, some two years on, there have been some very positive outcomes:

  • External income has almost doubled from less than 1 million to nearly 2 million.
  • There is now a vibrant culture in pursuit of external funding.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) management is far more active and under the control of the IP Management Group on which PMS still sits.
  • A more strategic approach to the formulation of the IFR science programme (including core and external funding) is now in place.

Naturally, these outcomes are based on a whole range of policies, actions and decisions taken in IFR over the last three years or so. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that we had more than a little to do with many of them.

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To contact PMS - Call David Thelwall on 01765-602514 or send an email.
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