Newsletter No. 26 – May 2005 Item 4

A benchmark is: a standard by which something can be measured or judged.

Benchmarking is the process of determining who is the very best, who sets the standard and what that standard is.

Benchmarking is a management tool used by many businesses to measure their performance against the standards or other businesses.  In the case of agriculture, performance is measured against other producers.

This is one reason why maintaining good records is essential in commercial agriculture.  Monitoring methods and costs, benchmarking helps farmers have a greater understanding of their production systems and how one or two changes can make a significant difference to their bottom line.

To help UK red meat producers become more competitive with the changes in the subsidies, the Red Meat Industry Forum has set up a benchmarking scheme.   A quote for the discussion on the benefits to producers:

Quote:  One issue is very clear.   The meat industry will no longer be able to afford to produce over 50% of its product outside market conformation and fat class, or 20% outside the target weight range.  By using this free benchmarking system, we can help producers understand just how crucial this is to profitability. End quote

There is a very good reason that increased supply of the food on the market is coming from a decreasing number of suppliers, who are growing progressively larger.  That reason is not confined to the fact that the major buyers require large scale producers.  The reason is that they are the suppliers (producers/processors) who recognise the current market needs.  They also operate to a high degree of precision with high standards of management.

That fact became very clear to me the very first time I entered an ostrich abattoir.  An excellent abattoir working to get the best product they could to the market - but they had no control over the birds offered for slaughter.   They had to do the best with what they were presented with.  Quality production starts on the farm.

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