The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has appointed Victor Willis as vice president of dairy market development (USA).

Willis, who has over 25 years of retail and manufacturing experience in the dairy sector, will be the new AHDB dairy products representative.

The role, jointly funded by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), will see Willis working closely with dairy exporters to help grow further opportunities for the sector in the US market.

AHDB head of international trade development (dairy), Lucy Randolph, said: “The USA is an important market for UK dairy exporters and we have identified further long-term opportunities to build on the successes our industry has already achieved.

“A key part of driving that growth is the support of having a strong in-market presence and we are delighted that Victor has joined the team to work with UK dairy exporters to help fulfil their full potential in the important US market.

“His wealth of experience in developing market strategy, brand development and product innovation will be invaluable.”

The USA is the UK’s second biggest dairy export market. AHDB said its analysis has highlighted further opportunities over the next decade with increasing levels of cheese consumption.

AHDB international trade development director, Dr Phil Hadley, said: “Our dairy levy payers have told us how much they value AHDB’s work to support exports and want to see more of it.

“The additional government money announced last year was welcome in complementing AHDB’s annual investment in providing tools and support to help drive dairy exports forward.

“The collaborative approach between AHDB and government to drive UK export growth is well established and Victor’s appointment is a further demonstration of our shared commitment to helping ensure our dairy exports thrive on the global stage.”

Dairy Export Programme

The funding for Willis’ role follows the government’s launch its new Dairy Export Programme last November, which commits to providing specialist resources in the sector’s priority markets and maximising the opportunities presented.

The programme was the result of the government’s decision at last year’s Farm to Fork summit to invest £1 million in the dairy sector – as part of a wider package to support agriculture, food and drink.

The programme was developed in consultation with industry, and facilitated by the industry-led Dairy Export Taskforce, ensuring activities addressed the sector’s needs.

The programme includes helping develop the export capability of UK businesses and championing their products on the global stage.

The taskforce represents industry and is supported by industry bodies such as AHDB, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Dairy UK. DBT and Defra are also represented on the taskforce.