Lee McFarland, from Augher, studied on the BSc (Hons) Degree course in Food Management and Marketing at the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).
Lee graduated from Loughry Campus in 2013 with an Ulster University validated degree. He entered the fast-paced environment of pig processing by beginning his career with Dunbia, Ballymena, as a sales graduate alongside other Loughry graduates.
Lee soon developed a passion for pork produce and was promoted to Site Commercial Manager in 2015.
Shortly after, Dunbia was purchased by Cranswick plc. Lee made a great impact with his new employers and was promoted to Group Trading Manager within Cranswick Country Foods to manage its Fresh Sales Division.
To give an idea of the magnitude of Cranswick plc as a processor, today the group processes in the region of 64,000 carcases/week, alongside a successful chicken processing business.
Lee is now primarily based in the Group Headquarters in Hull but enjoys the opportunity to return to the Ballymena site as necessary.
“I manage the Group Trading Team who handle over 50 commercial accounts with a turnover in the region of £100m per annum,” he said.
“Trading pork products across the UK and Europe is a daily business. We aim to maximise profits whilst ensuring a stable carcase balance for the operation.
“Regular communications across the supply chain is essential and our customers are our priority.”
Reflecting on his time as a student, Lee added: “Looking back at my time at CAFRE, I can now really appreciate the support I received from all of the staff.
“When you are told to roll up your sleeves and get on with it – you certainly do that at Loughry.
“We had great opportunities to develop through the college’s practical approach to learning.
“I can really attribute my career success to the college, doors were opened to me through CAFRE’s industry connections and I certainly have been keeping them propped open ever since.
“I would highly recommend that if you are considering a career in agri-food that you look into the courses on offer at CAFRE.
“Careers in the food industry aren’t purely food processing, there’s lots of opportunities to follow business paths too.”
CAFRE hosted a series of virtual Open Evenings in the spring. If you missed watching and would like more information on courses visit www.cafre.ac.uk or call free on 0800 028 4291.