Andrew Saunders, one of the pig sector’s most familiar figures for many years, is leaving his role as agriculture director at Pilgrim’s UK.
Former NPA general manager Barney Kay will be his replacement, taking up the role on November 8. He joins from Sainsbury’s where he has been head of agriculture, having previously worked in a similar role for Tesco. He has also spent time in operational roles at Pilgrim’s UK’s sister company Moy Park.
Mr Saunders has decided to take on a fresh challenge in the music publishing industry, having purchased a business with his family.
Mr Saunders, who leaves the industry following a distinguished 42-year career, was described by Pilgrim’s as one of the UK’s foremost champions of higher welfare pig farming. He has been directly responsible for putting in place Pilgrim’s UK’s agricultural operation, with many of the practices, innovations and developments which have become commonplace within the pig industry having either originated from, or been directly influenced, by him, the company said.
He was responsible for the creation of Pilgrim’s UK’s BQP business, which has established dedicated higher welfare pig production supplies encompassing outdoor, free range and organic systems for many of Pilgrim’s customers. In 2014 he also took on responsibility for Pilgrim’s UK’s lamb business, which has been instrumental in Waitrose’s move to 100% British lamb all year round.
Pilgrim’s UK Chief Executive Andrew Cracknell said: “We will of course be sad to see Andrew leave. He is one of the most respected figures within our industry, conducts himself with utmost integrity and is held in the highest regard by colleagues, customers and peers. He is a trailblazer and innovator, and will be long remembered for his significant contributions, not only to this organisation, but UK livestock farming as a whole. We wish him every success in his new endeavours.”
Mr Cracknell said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming someone of Barney’s calibre to the business and know that his unique experience will help us to further develop our agricultural operations and deepen our relationships with farmers and customers, while continuing to ensure that we have the highest welfare standards and the best quality products, produced in the most sustainable way.”
Mr Kay said: “This is an incredibly important time for British Farming as we manage the UK’s transition to new trading relations while seeking to strengthen our position as producing the best quality and most sustainable products in the world.
“Pilgrim’s UK has established a unique approach to working with farmers which has helped establish its well-deserved reputation as the leading high welfare producer globally and it is going further and faster than anyone else in the industry in committing to net zero by 2030. I can’t wait to get started and help take Pilgrim’s agricultural operations even further.”