The appointment comes following the strategic investment from Exponent into Meadow Foods in August 2018. Since then, the business has acquired leading inclusion business Nimbus Foods, Roil Foods and Fayrefield Liquid. It has made a £4m investment in new plant-based food manufacturing capabilities and most recently committed to slashing plastic waste.
Harkjaer replaces Simon Chantler, who will remain on the board as a non executive director and remains the largest individual shareholder.
Chantler founded Meadow Foods in 1992 and over the past 28 years has held the position of managing director, executive chairman and latterly non-executive chairman. He has overseen the business's growth from its early days as a start up to an ingredients manufacturer operating across four sites and turning over £450m.
United Coffee, Findus
Meadow Foods said Harkjaer was a hugely experienced chairman with more than 20 years of executive level experience in the global foods and drinks industry. His experience includes holding the position of group chief executive officer at United Coffee and Findus Group as well as time spent in leadership roles at Toms Group and Unigate.
He is currently vice chairman of Caffitaly and chairman of Scandanavian businesses Løgimose Meyers and Scandic Standard. As an executive and board member, he has worked extensively with private equity partners to build and grow the businesses in which he has been involved.
“Per brings a wealth of complementary expertise in food, manufacturing and innovation, as well as a proven ability to deliver growth for global food businesses," said Chantler. "We are excited by this next phase in the company’s development as we continue to create new opportunities for our producer partners, customers and employees.”
Harkjaer's appointment follows the announcement that Neil Chivers would be its new director of specialty ingredients.
Expansion and acquisitions
Chantler would continue to work closely with the rest of the Meadow Foods board and management in delivering Meadow Foods’ strategy of growing the business through organic expansion and acquisitions, according to the company.
Harkjaer added: “Meadow Foods has matured as a business significantly in recent years and I’m excited to be joining the board and to support their ambitions for continued growth.”
Meadow Foods is an award winning company that operates from factories in Chester, Peterborough, Holme-on-Spalding Moor and Dolgellau. It makes value-added ingredients seven days a week for some of the UK’s best-known food manufacturers.
The company currently employs more than 450 people and handles in excess of 500m litres of milk each year direct from its network of dedicated milk producers across the UK.