This week is Great British Pea Week and sees the inaugural running of the Yes Peas! campaign, designed to raise the profile of this wonderful little legume. And as we’re slap bang in the middle of pea growing country, we couldn’t let it pass without a mention.
Based in sprawling flatlands of East Yorkshire, just across the mighty Humber Estuary from North Lincolnshire’s giant fields, you can’t fail to notice we’re in growing country. An old farmer once told me that the soil in this part of the world was so good that if you ‘planted a leg thou’d grow a table’, which always makes me smile whenever I look at the landscape.
Everything is grown here; traditional arable crops, almost every conceivable vegetable, fruits and berries, and not five miles from Red Stag Media HQ sits a vineyard growing grapes for English wine. It is a far cry from my native North Yorkshire, just 50 miles north, where the much of the land is given over to grazing. Down here, you rarely see a beast.
According to figures from British Growers Association, which is spearheading the campaign, approximately 700 pea growers will harvest 2 billion portions of peas during the harvest, currently underway, making Britain Europe’s largest pea consumer.
Britain is 90% self-sufficient in pea production, the organisation says, with 35,000 hectares grown each year in the UK, the equivalent to 70,000 football pitches. Famously, to preserve all the nutrients, the peas go from field to frozen in under 150 minutes, a feat which requires military-style planning during harvest.
Of course Yes Peas! is one of many marketing campaigns rolled out over recent years to raise awareness and ultimately sales of some of the UK’s best quality produce. Some of those have been extremely successful, turning what might have been considered unfashionable or misunderstood foods into family favourites.
As a keen game shot and stalker I have always enjoyed the Game to Eat campaign run by the Countryside Alliance, and have often used their recipes. Game, traditionally, always had an image problem, being seen as the preserve of the eccentric country squire who hangs his pheasants until the inwards drop out, or the bumpkin living off rabbits and pigeons and anything else he can catch. For those who have little to do with the countryside, lack of awareness and lack of access means it has never even been an option.
But by highlighting the benefits of the meat in terms of taste, health, ethics and sustainability, and by lobbying supermarkets to stock it, awareness and consumption of game has increased dramatically over recent years. With the right branding, a smattering of celebrity chefs, great recipes and dedicated a PR and marketing strategy, the campaign has managed to make game meat cool for perhaps the first time ever.
The NFU’s Back British Farming campaign has a wider remit of highlighting all British produce and encouraging consumers to make the choice to support British farming. The Red Tractor graphic on food packaging enables us to make that decision quickly, without having to wade through the small print on the back of the packaging. It proves marketing doesn’t always have to be complicated to be effective. The Red Tractor logo is now accepted as a quality mark of British produce.
These are great examples of how marketing is transforming consumer attitudes towards foods that have become so familiar they are in need of a fresh approach, or foods that are so unfamiliar that awareness is desperately needed. But they are win-wins as consumers benefits from great choice, and parts of the food and farming industries that may have struggled to grow in the past suddenly find that sales building.
As a company that marches on our considerable stomachs, we’re saying Yes Peas! to more quality food marketing campaigns. If you feel your great produce could benefit from a sprinkling of fairy dust then let’s talk, preferably over a plate of Great British food.