Finding the markets of the future

23 October 2019


CLA Director General Sarah Hendry looks ahead to next month’s Rural Business Conference…


With just over a month to go until the highlight in our sector’s autumnal calendar, the CLA’s Rural Business Conference (#RB2019), I thought it a great opportunity to explore the day in more detail. 

We’ve compiled an informative and entertaining agenda around the day’s theme, Unlocking Tomorrow’s Markets. Exploring how you can grow your businesses and explore new markets – whether as a result of Brexit, changing consumer trends or the public’s changing expectations of the countryside – you’ll hear from rural business owners who have already successfully diversified and exploited these shifting trends at home and abroad.

Our keynote speaker is Secretary of State Theresa Villiers MP. She’ll share how the Government is investing in environmental delivery and maintaining our world-leading standards.

We’ll then explore the opportunities in new markets. Jeff Grant from the New Zealand Embassy will outline how they successfully took difficult decisions on agriculture, the largest sector of their economy, and targeted new markets in China. Dai Miles and Stuart McNally at Calon Wen Dairy will share how their cooperative has secured a contract to sell into the Gulf State of Qatar. Sean Cannon of Cannon and Cannon will share the very British success story of his upmarket charcuterie business. Finally, Mary Sondes will explore her approach to maximising her estate’s assets in new and progressive ways, including a venture into non-food crops.

Is veganism a fad or with us for the long-run? A renowned expert in consumer trends, Professor Andrew Fearne, will give us his answer in the first session after lunch! He’ll set out what consumers are likely to want in the coming years and how rural businesses can turn what might seem at first sight threats into new opportunities.

Our afternoon session focuses on maximising environmental and social markets. Professor David Hill of the Environment Bank will share how landowners can generate long-term and guaranteed income through wildlife-friendly land management. Mother and son duo, Julia and Joe Evans of Whitbourne Estate, will share how they have integrated a care farm into their business and their plans for expansion. Tim Palmer, farmer chairman of the Martin Down Farmer Cluster, and Jess Brooks of the Game and Conservation Wildlife Trust will share how 43 farmers have united to protect and enhance the iconic and threatened wildlife of Martin Down on the Hampshire/Dorset border.

Rural businesses are living through difficult times and it can sometimes be tricky to be sure of the best course of action,  but for the forward-thinking there are plenty of new opportunities to explore. Our conference programme provides all attendees with some great examples of best practice and innovation and I hope it will ensure that you go back home at the end of the day inspired to take the next steps for your business.

The Rural Business Conference 2018 takes place at the QEII Centre in London on Thursday 28 November. There are a limited number of member tickets still available

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