EU nixes ad campaigns for milk products and sheep meat

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The hopes of Latvia’s dairy and sheep farming sectors were dealt a blow Tuesday as the responsible authorities in the European Union rejected separate project co-financing proposals from the Central Association of Milk Producers (LPCS) and the Sheep Raisers’ Association for public awareness campaigns to popularize their products among consumers.

The LPCS project had planned for the EU to finance about half of a €1.29 million advertising campaign, while the sheep farmers’ group was looking for 30% co-financing for a €1.47 million ad campaign to promote sheep meat, Latvian news agency LETA reported.

Both projects had flaws in the submission procedures, thus the responsible authorities were not fully convinced of their merits.  They are eligible for repeat submission, but LPCS board chairman Jānis Šolks admitted the mistake could be costly both in the short- and long-terms.

“Information campaigns are essential, especially when exports have shrunk so much due to Russia’s embargo on EU food products and now there’s overproduction in the rest of the world’s markets. For example, during the ‘Latvian goods’ campaign dairy consumption increased locally by 12%, thus giving a supplemental boost to the milk sector,” he said.

He added that since it isn’t known how long the embargo might last, it would be imperative to devote all efforts to winning back the local market and educating consumers.

“We’re handled smaller campaigns that gave immediate results, so we were hoping this one would work out, too, as a much bigger marketing project, with combined public relations and advertising to reach a wider audience,” Šolks said.

The LPCS will discuss the situation with its members to assess its further options. It unites 13 dairy producers and processors, annually accounting for 80% of all milk purchases in Latvia. The association includes joint-stock companies Rigas piena kombinats, Valmieras piens, Tukuma piens, Rigas piensaimnieks, Smiltenes piens, Cesvaines piens, Talsu piensaimnieks and others.

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