Movers and shakers: Arla Foods Ingredients names new CEO, RABDF welcomes HSBC man as president

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

getty/Betsie Van der Meer
getty/Betsie Van der Meer

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We round-up this month’s notable appointments . . .

Arla Foods Ingredients CEO Henrik Andersen is set to step down as CEO ‘to explore a new career path’ but will consider remaining part of the board of the dairy co-op. Replacing him at the helm of the ingredients division is the current vice-president commercial Luis Cubel, who has been at AFI since 2002 and will commence his new role on February 1, 2024.

Luis Cubel has been appointed CEO of Arla Foods Ingredients. Image: AFI

Andersen has been part of Arla Foods since 1994 but has chosen to ‘dedicate the coming years to work on diverse projects and explore opportunities to serve as a board member’, Arla said in a statement.

“I have been part of a fantastic development in AFI for many years, and feel proud of what we have achieved working together,” said Andersen. “It has been a journey of discovering and delivering powerful nutrition, and I continue to see great potential for sustainable growth. We have come a long way with our Strategy26 implementation and soon we will begin work to craft our next strategy – therefore I think it is a good time for me to move on, and let a new leadership take charge of this process.“

Andersen has served as the subsidiary’s CEO since 2010, overseeing AFI’s development in an increasingly competitive market. AFI’s initial strategy relied on utilizing the co-op’s own whey, through later forging sourcing agreements with other Danish suppliers and dairies in Norway and Sweden and finally to a global expansion into Argentina in 2001 and a JV with Germany’s largest dairy co-operative DMK.

Cubel’s ties with Arla Foods Ingredients go back to 2002, including positions as a general manager in Germany for three years until AFI was separated from Arla as a separate subsidiary.

On stepping into his new role, he commented: “I am honoured to have been appointed as the next CEO of AFI; An organization, I have been proud to serve during the last 20 years. Henrik leaves AFI in a very strong position to continue our growth ambitions, and I have truly enjoyed working with Henrik over the years. I am looking forward, together with the AFI team, to building on these strong foundations and taking AFI to the next level.”

HSBC head of agrifoods named RABDF president

Allan Wilkinson has been appointed as the new president of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. Wilkinson – who is a dairy farmer’s son hailing from North Yorkshire - is succeeding Lord Ewen Cameron in the role. The new RABDF president sits on several industry bodies and is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Farmers and a Fellow of the Ryal Agricultural Societies. He is HSBC UK’s head of agrifoods, a role he has held since 2015. He joined the Midland Bank’s (now part of HSBC) agriculture team in 1988 and was made head of agriculture for HSBC in 2010.

"I am truly humbled to be asked to help and support the good work of the RABDF,” Wilkinson commented. “The RABDF's work in the industry is vast and ambitious. Not only are they supporting their members and the wider industry through the various boards and industry bodies they sit on, but their ambitious and highly successful events programme is paramount in helping to promote knowledge sharing and connectivity in the dairy sector.”

Graham Wilkinson to join AHDB as CEO

Former Arla Foods executive Graham Wilkinson will join the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) as CEO.

During his time at Arla, working in both global and UK-based roles, Wilkinson has supported over 8,500 cooperative farmer owners and managed the delivery of commercial milk concepts on farm. He also created a European agriculture function within Arla, spanning seven markets and has also worked in the retailer-side at Tesco PLC on strengthening the sustainability of agriculture supply chains in dairy, beef, pork and poultry.

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."

Dairy alternatives producer Daiya Foods announces new CEO

A former director at the US-based plant-based dairy manufacturer, Hajime Fujita has been named CEO of Daiya Foods. Fujita will lead all global operations throughout North America and the brand's continued international expansion, the company said.

Fujita has more than 17 years of experience in business and financial planning throughout the US and APAC, having joined from Daiya’s parent Otsuka Pharmaceuticals where he served as vice-president, business planning. He is believed to have had an instrumental role in Daiya’s acquisition in 2017, where he served as director of financial planning and analysis from 2018 to 2021 before assuming the role of vice-president at Otsuka America.

In addition to this appointment, the board of directors announced two appointments that bring sales and marketing closer together in a bid to engage with consumers and accelerate growth. Melanie Domer will assume a new role as chief commercial officer (moving over to her new role from chief marketing officer), while John Kelly will serve as chief marketing officer, having worked as VP, consumer marketing, previously.

Beneo appoints new director

Ingredients manufacturer Beneo has appointed Niels E. Hower as a new member of the executive board of directors at Benoe GmbH, effective immediately. Hower will be responsible for Beneo’s portfolio of plant-based proteins, including includes Meatless, a specialized company for plant-based texturizing solutions that Beneo acquired in 2022.

With an MBA in Economics and more than 25 years of experience in the retail, wholesale and life science sectors, Hower has held several senior management roles, including in category/product management and operations. Prior to his new role, Hower was positioned as EVP global procurement at Fresenius Kabi. He also co-founded the Doctor Chococo brand, which launched the first milk chocolate bar containing vitamin D and other beneficial ingredients.

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