Farming News - RBST Survey Provides New Insights into Commercial Opportunities with Rare & Native Breeds
RBST Survey Provides New Insights into Commercial Opportunities with Rare & Native Breeds
Farmers and smallholders who sell rare and native breed products and services can sell native breed produce for a premium but spend less on input costs in relation to continental breeds, an RBST survey has found. However it also found that the lack of suitable abattoirs is seen as a key barrier to future business growth.
Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has undertaken the survey to examine commercial trends with rare and native breed livestock and equines.
- 49% of respondents said they sell their rare or native breed products for a higher price than continental alternatives, while 43% said they sell it for the same price and 8% said they sell it for a lower price.
- Of those who keep both native and continental breeds, or who have switched from continental breeds to native breeds, 71% thought that overall input costs with native breeds were lower than with continental breeds. The main cost differences related to feed and supplements, the type of land required, housing / shelter, and veterinary costs.
- 38% of respondents said that the commercial potential of a superior product was one of the reasons why they chose a native breed, and 36% said lower input costs was a reason for their native breed choice.
- 42% of respondents warned that ‘lack of suitable abattoir’ is one of their top three greatest barriers to growing their rare breed business.
Christopher Price, Chief Executive of Rare Breeds Survival Trust said: “The survey results show a thriving and dynamic native breeds sector with strong levels of investment and exciting opportunities for future growth. The opportunity to sell meat for a premium coupled with lower input costs creates an attractive opportunity for commercial success with rare and native livestock breeds, which is so important for these breeds’ survival long into the future.
“The results also show the breadth of opportunity for those keeping native breeds of livestock and equines, with commercial activity deriving from native breed meat, wool, breeding stock and dairy but also conservation grazing, hides and horns, and more.
“But the results also show very clearly the need for urgent action on another key barrier for rare breed businesses looking to grow – access to suitable abattoirs. RBST is campaigning for Government to commit to the support and collaboration which will help reverse the decline of the local abattoir network.
“RBST will not only keep working to show consumers why buying native breed products is worth the money, we will also keep working with Defra to encourage support for the wide range of ‘public goods’ benefits generated by farming with native breeds such as supporting biodiversity and resistance to disease.”
Huw Rowlands, who farms at Mickle Trafford in Cheshire, replaced his Friesian herd with native Red Poll cattle as a single suckler beef herd in 2002. Huw says: “Because Red Polls are a native breed there are fewer input costs, they are less labour intensive, and we’ve had fewer calving problems: in 15 years the vet has only had to come out to two calvings for us. They are a very good way of converting grass into beef, of making an income from marginal land. And interest keeps growing in the provenance of beef, which is a good selling point for native breeds. We’ve found it easy to sell prime cuts, but it’s crucial to find the right market for everything else.”
The results are taken from the responses of 259 farmers and smallholders who sell rare or native breed products or services, to the RBST Commercial Trends survey, conducted in July 2021.
Longevity – 51% of respondents have been operating their rare or native breed business for more than 10 years, and 27% for more than 20 years.
Increased turnover - 59% of respondents have seen the turnover of their rare or native breed business increase in the past 5 years, with another 27% saying it had stayed the same. 13% said turnover has increased by more than 50% over the last 5 years.
Investment – 86% of respondents have made investments in their rare or a native breed business in the past 5 years. 22% have made investments of more than £10000, and 73% are planning to make investments in their business over the next 5 years.
The most frequent recent or planned investments include:
- New or improved husbandry facilities (41%)
- Digital marketing / online sales facilities / website development (39%)
- Farm diversifications related to rare breeds (26%)
- Creating or improving a farm shop or on site butchery or specialist storage facilities (21%)
Future growth opportunities: Respondents see the following as the greatest opportunities for growing their rare breed businesses:
- Increased consumer concern for the environment and animal welfare (66%)
- Consumers re-connecting with local businesses and valuing local provenance of products (61%)
- Growing consumer preference for quality of meat (56%)
- ELM and public payment for native breed conservation work (29%)
Barriers to growth: Respondents see the following as the greatest barriers to growing their rare breed business:
- Consumers unwilling to spend more for high quality or high standards (48%)
- Lack of suitable abattoir (42%)
Go Native: Reasons for choosing rare / native breeds were varied, top 5 are:
- To support the breed’s survival (85%)
- To support the natural environment (56%)
- To maintain local heritage (43%)
- Commercial potential of superior product (38%)
- Lower input costs (36%)
23% of respondents keep both continental and native breeds, while 11% have switched from native to continental. 66% chose only native breeds from the start.
Lower input costs: Of all respondents, 64% thought that overall costs with native breeds were lower than with continental breeds. This compares with 6% who thought native breed costs were higher and 16% who thought costs were the same.
Of those who keep both native and continental breeds, or who have switched from continental breeds to native breeds, 71% thought that overall costs with native breeds were lower than with continental breeds.
- 66% of respondents thought their feed and supplement costs were lower with native breeds than their experience or expectation with continental breeds.
- 57% of respondents thought their costs related to the type of land required were lower with native breeds than their experience or expectation with continental breeds
- 50% of respondents thought their housing and shelter costs were lower with native breeds than their experience or expectation with continental breeds
- 44% of respondents thought their veterinary costs were lower with native breeds than their experience or expectation with continental breeds
Other costs considered to be lower by some respondents include farmer’s time and level of loss.
Selling for a premium: 49% of respondents sell their native / rare breed meat for a higher price than continental alternatives, 43% for the same price, 8% for a lower price. The top 5 selling points for native or rare breed meat were:
- Taste (76%)
- Local produce (66%)
- Supporting a rare breed's survival (61%)
- Environmental sustainability (56%)
- Animal welfare (53%)