Case Study: Food is GREAT campaign celebrates surge in exports

A direct approach to promoting British food and drink, through a 'Food is GREAT' campaign led by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has achieved significant success since it launched last year.

The 'Food is GREAT' campaign is on the way to achieving its 2020 target for exports
The 'Food is GREAT' campaign is on the way to achieving its 2020 target for exports

The campaign, designed to boost British trade in food and drink and exports, rose from £20.1bn in 2016 to more than £22bn in 2017-18.

An 11-strong team at Defra leads the campaign, which has brought together teams from government departments in Britain, China and the US.

The campaign was developed by government and industry to increase UK food and drink exports by £2.9bn by 2020.

It fed into the wider cross-government GREAT campaign, bringing together its various communications priorities into a single strategic programme for the first time.

Defra delivered the campaign in partnership with the Department for International Trade, VisitBritain, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and GREAT.

Industry partners included brands such as Walkers Shortbread, Sipsmith and Fever-Tree, as well as the Food and Drink Federation, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Objectives included getting 500 UK food and drink businesses to export by March 2018, increasing demand for British food and drink among international buyers and investors in the US and China, among other markets, and increasing positive perceptions of British food and drink among consumers in key markets overseas.

A key target audience was SMEs, since these companies were responsible for just six per cent of food and drink exports in 2016.

To encourage businesses to get more involved in exporting goods, the campaign focused on showcasing the benefits of exporting, highlighting the support offered by government, and busting some myths about food and drink.

It also had a presence at major trade events such as Anuga, the world’s biggest food-and-drink trade fair, in Cologne, the Best of British Exhibition in Shanghai, and the Royal Highland Show in Scotland.

In an analysis of the campaign published on the GCS website this week, the Defra team, led by Lara Hallett, head of communications strategy and campaign delivery, said: "Although a lot of food-and-drink communications activity was happening across Whitehall and within industry, a lack of shared strategic objectives for campaigns resulted in missed opportunities and limited impact."

It added: "A clear, streamlined communications campaign was needed to bring food-and-drink communications under a single umbrella."

Exports, digital campaign results such as reach, engagement and click-through rates, and the number of food and drink businesses engaged, were among the metrics used to measure the campaign's success.

The analysis said: "Government trade support in 2017/18 contributed to export deals of over £1bn – our direct contribution to which is estimated to be worth more than double our target return on investment."

It added: "Teams from multiple government departments based in the UK, China and the US have come together and worked to a single strategic programme, delivering over 20 major campaign activations to date."

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