Key figures from the UK agri-food industry have become official ‘Ambassadors’ for the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast.
They will facilitate engagement at national and international level, under the chairmanship of Tony O’Neill, previously a director of Moy Park and Dunbia and chairman of the Agri-Food Strategy Board.
Other ambassadors are Owen Brennan, executive chairman of Devenish Nutrition, which exports to over 35 countries worldwide; Janet McCollum, formerly the chief executive of Moy Park; Dr David Dobbin, former chief executive of Dale Farm; Stuart Lendrum, formerly head of sustainability at Sainsbury’s; Heather Jenkins, previously director of buying at Waitrose UK; and Eric Reid , a former production director at Moy Park.
Launching the ambassador scheme,
Professor Nigel Scollan, IGFS director, said it would extend the reach of IGFS at a high level.
He added: “We realised there was an untapped opportunity, where individuals with access to key networks in UK, Republic of Ireland, the US and beyond, could help us foster new relationships and build on existing ones.
“The ambassadors we have selected have a high level of expertise and knowledge so this will be engagement on an ambitious scale, talking to influential people and decision-makers – across policy, business and academia,” he added.
Ambassadors chair Tony O’Neill said the group was also about promoting a safe and robust food industry for Northern Ireland, underpinned by a robust, scientific evidence-base from IGFS.
“The work IGFS is doing in this space is unique – the model doesn’t exist anywhere else in the UK. In that sense we are indebted to the trailblazing work of IGFS founder, Professor Chris Elliott,” he said.
“We now have a real opportunity to build upon that work and create a world-leading food system here in NI, in terms of quality, integrity and traceability.
“Northern Ireland has a natural advantage in that supply chains are relatively short and safe. Put that together with the world-leading research taking place at IGFS and you have something very special.
“Brexit may be a challenge, but it could also be the opportunity to develop a strong NI food brand, joined up right across the supply chain, from fundamental research through to the product on your plate.”