Having worked throughout the supply chain for his whole career, agriculture has always been a part of Graham Wilkinson's life, which began on the family farm in the north east of England.
Currently serving as Arla Food’s Global Vice President for Agriculture, he is set to join the Board in 2024, with the exact timings of his move to be agreed in the coming weeks.
During his time at the dairy giant, Wilkinson has supported more than 8,500 cooperative farmer owners and helped in the delivery of a range of on-farm milk concepts. He was also responsible for the creation of a leading European agriculture function within the business, spanning seven markets.
Wilkinson’s career also extends into retailer-side, previously working as Tesco PLC’s agricultural manager, where he strengthened the sustainability of agriculture supply chains in its dairy, beef, pork and poultry sectors.
"My passion is working with farmers, for farmers and with my experience, I see this as a great opportunity to drive greater impact and success for all levy payers to help create a world-class food and farming industry,” Wilkinson said on his appointment.
Commenting further, Nicholas Saphir, chair of AHDB, added: "We are thrilled to welcome Graham to AHDB with his passion for farming, his impressive leadership skills and vast industry knowledge.
"We believe he is the ideal candidate to lead AHDB into the next exciting phase of our growth, putting levy payers at the heart of our work and maximising the impact of the work we do. Thank you to Arla for supporting a smooth transition."
The Association for Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has also welcomed the news, noting Wilkinson's background in agriculture as a refreshing addition.
“After many years of CEOs not coming from a farming background, we welcome the announcement that Graham Wilkinson, currently Global Vice President – Agriculture at Arla Foods, is to become the new CEO at AHDB” Tony Goodger, spokesperson for AIMS, commented.
“It has been our long-held view that the CEO needed to be someone of industry stature and who has experience of both the production and processing side of farming,” he continued.
“AHDB has appeared to have been in a state of flux over the last couple of years and we trust that Graham will get it back onto the front foot in terms of championing the levy payer.
“He comes into the organisation at a critical time with the Farming Minister about to decide on whether the levy is increased, something which we urge him to do quickly as the longer he takes to decide the less planning time our members have for the next financial year."
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