The Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) has announced the appointment of Graham Wilkinson as its new chief executive officer (CEO) to replace Tim Rycroft who is stepping down from the role next month.

According to the AHDB, Wilkinson brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success from his time at Arla Foods as global vice-president, agriculture.

During his time at Arla working in both global and UK roles, he has supported over 8,500 cooperative farmer owners and managed the delivery of innovative commercial milk concepts on farm, the board has said.

With his experience and knowledge of the supply chain, the AHDB said that Wilkinson created a leading European agriculture function within Arla, spanning seven markets.

He has also worked in the retailer-side at Tesco PLC, where he reportedly strengthened the sustainability of agriculture supply chains in its dairy, beef, pork and poultry sectors.


The development board went on to state that having worked throughout the supply chain for his whole career, agriculture has always been part of Wilkinson’s life, working with his grandparents and parents on the family farm in the north east of England.

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

“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.”

Reflecting on his appointment, Graham 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 the AHDB in the coming weeks.

He replaces Tim Rycroft, who leaves AHDB in December after nearly two and a half years with the body.