Dairy cooperative Arla Foods has announced the departure of its vice president of Agriculture, Graham Wilkinson, who is leaving to become chief executive of Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK.
Arla said the process to identify his replacement is underway. Wilkinson is set to leave the firm in early 2024.
Wilkinson is widely respected in the UK agri-food industry for his dedication in bringing farmers closer to the business and the business closer to its farmers. Prior to rejoining Arla in 2015, Wilkinson worked within Tesco’s agriculture team for four years after having spent nine years in various Agri-related roles in Arla UK.
In his current role at Arla he has created a leading European Agriculture Function spanning seven markets, supporting 8500 Arla members during the delivery of Arla’s farm programmes, commercial milk concepts on farm and helping to support members in the delivery of Arla’s sustainability strategy.
“Graham has been an important senior leader for our business, and his contributions to Arla and our farmer owners during his 17 years with us have been invaluable,” Hanne Søndergaard, executive vice president for agriculture, sustainability and communication at Arla Foods, commented.
“We are sad to see him go, but we wish him all the best in his next career challenge. I have personally enjoyed working closely with Graham, and I am very thankful that he leaves behind an incredibly strong agriculture team to carry on the work of supporting our members.”
Wilkinson said: “Leaving Arla at a time with so many exciting activities going on has been a difficult decision to make, however I simply could not pass up this opportunity. Throughout my career I have enjoyed working with farmers for farmers and see this as an opportunity to continue this journey at an even higher level. Clearly it’s the people and our farmers whom I will miss the most as I have built many friendships throughout my time. However as both organisations already collaborate strongly and are built on a foundation of delivering for farmers I look forward to strengthen these even further in my new role at AHDB.”
He added that he has a” deep appreciation for and huge respect for” the team at AHDB.
“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,” he said.
He replaces Tim Rycroft at AHDB, who leaves the statutory levy board in December after nearly two and a half years.
Nicholas Saphir, chair of AHDB, said: “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.”
Funded by farmers and growers and some other parts of the supply chain, AHDB aims to enhance farm business efficiency and competitiveness.