Defra appoints Nicholas Saphir as AHDB chairman

Defra has appointed Nicholas Saphir – former executive chairman of organic dairy co-operative Omsco – as the new AHDB chair.

Mr Saphir will start his three-year tenure on 1 April, replacing outgoing chairman Sir Peter Kendall, who has held the post since 2014.

See also: MPs back farmers to safeguard British food standards

Sainsbury’s director Judith Batchelar had been hotly tipped for the role. But it is understood she was pipped at the post by Mr Saphir.

A qualified lawyer, Mr Saphir has chalked up a number of industry-leading posts during a 40-year agricultural and horticultural career.

His most recent achievement has been to lead Omsco for 18 years, during which time Omsco became the second-largest organic milk co-op in the world, with an annual turnover in excess of £100m.

He was also founder chairman of Food from Britain, president of  the Fresh Produce Consortium, and chairman of the Agricultural Forum.

In addition, he has chaired various industry and government bodies including the Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation.

Prior to the industry roles, he began his career trading fruit and vegetables in the UK, Europe, Southern Africa and South America.

Mr Saphir said he was delighted to be involved with the AHDB at a pivotal time of change for UK agriculture and horticulture.

“The AHDB has a vital role to play in helping to equip farmers, growers and processors to make the most of the opportunities and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.”

Wealth of experience

Defra farm minister Victoria Prentis said: “Nicholas Saphir has a wealth of experience in the food and farming industry, with a diverse understanding of marketing and trade across a variety of sectors.

“I am confident he will provide the AHDB with strong leadership, clear vision and enthusiasm as the sector enters a time of change.”

She also thanked Sir Peter Kendall for his dedication to the AHDB, and the sector as a whole, during his two, three-year stints in the role.

The appointment was made by Defra secretary George Eustice and approved by ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Saphir will receive an annual non-pensionable remuneration of £55,000, based on a minimum time commitment of 104 days per year.

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