Michael Duffy is leaving Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, after 10 years as chief executive.
In May he takes over as boss of the Royal Dublin Society, the international exhibition and convention centre.
The search for a replacement has begun. The successful candidate must manage an export market worth E6.7bn a year and the UK - still Ireland’s main market - accounts for half of that figure.
Duffy’s departure has surprised some in the industry, although colleagues suggested that he needed a new challenge. Duffy helped boost Irish food exports in the UK through initiatives including the “Ireland the food island” promotion and the launch of an Irish logo on meat exports. He oversaw marketing through means such as food fairs, trade conferences and high-profile sports sponsorship.
“He did an excellent job,” said a Department of Agriculture spokesman, “and he will be greatly missed.”