Graham Wilkinson 002 (002)

Source: AHDB

Wilkinson will replace the outgoing Tim Rycroft as CEO of the levy board in the new year

AHDB has appointed Arla’s global vice president for agriculture Graham Wilkinson as its new CEO.

Wilkinson, who replaces the outgoing Tim Rycroft, brought “a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success”, AHDB said. He was “a passionate leader and strong advocate of British food and farming”, it added.

He first joined Arla as a farm assurance manager in 2003, before working in a series of agriculture manager positions at the dairy co-op until December 2011.

Wilkinson then moved on to Tesco, where AHDB said he “strengthened the sustainability of agriculture supply chains”, working as agriculture manager for pork and poultry between January 2012 and May 2013, and as agriculture manager for dairy and beef from January 2013 to February 2015.

He returned to his former employer in March 2015 as its director of member services and has since worked in a number of global and UK-focused roles in farm-orientated positions at Arla.

The levy board said he had created “a leading European agriculture function within Arla, spanning seven markets”. He was promoted to his current job in May 2022.

“Having worked throughout the supply chain for his whole career, agriculture has always been part of Graham’s life, working with his grandparents and parents on the family farm in the north east of England,” AHDB added.

“We are thrilled to welcome Graham to AHDB with his passion for farming, his impressive leadership skills and vast industry knowledge,” said AHDB chair Nicholas Saphir.

“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.”

Wilkinson said: “I am excited to join AHDB, an organisation that I have a deep appreciation for and huge respect for its fantastic team.

“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.”

Wilkinson is set to leave Arla in the new year, with the exact timing to be agreed between Arla and AHDB in the coming weeks. Rycroft will leave AHDB in December after almost two-and-a-half “very successful years”, it said.