Pilgrim’s UK has announced that Barney Kay will join the business as its new agriculture director.

Barney joins Pilgrim’s UK from Sainsbury’s where he is currently head of agriculture, overseeing agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture. He previously worked in a similar role for Tesco as well as spending time in operational roles at Pilgrim’s UK’s sister company, Moy Park. He began his career as a farm manager and also served as general manager for the National Pig Association (NPA) from 2005-2011 and as a regional director for the NFU.

Barney replaces Andrew Saunders, who is leaving the industry following a distinguished 42-year career as one of the UK’s foremost champions of higher welfare pig farming. Andrew has decided to take on a fresh challenge in the music publishing industry having purchased a business with his family.

Andrew has been directly responsible for putting in place Pilgrim’s UK’s industry-leading agricultural operation. Many of the practices, innovations and developments which have become commonplace within the pig industry have either originated from, or been directly influenced, by him.

Andrew was responsible for the creation of Pilgrim’s UK’s BQP business, which has established dedicated higher welfare pig production supplies encompassing outdoor, free range and organic systems for many of Pilgrim’s customers. In 2014, he also took on responsibility for Pilgrim’s UK’s lamb business, which has been instrumental in Waitrose’s move to 100% British lamb all year round. 

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Pilgrim’s UK chief executive Andrew Cracknell said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming someone of Barney’s caliber to the business and know that his unique experience will help us to further develop our agricultural operations and deepen our relationships with farmers and customers, while continuing to ensure that we have the highest welfare standards and the best quality products, produced in the most sustainable way. 

“We will of course be sad to see Andrew leave. He is one of the most respected figures within our industry, conducts himself with utmost integrity and is held in the highest regard by colleagues, customers and peers. He is a trailblazer and innovator, and will be long remembered for his significant contributions, not only to this organization, but UK livestock farming as a whole. We wish him every success in his new endeavours.”

Barney Kay, Pilgrim’s UK’s new agriculture director said: “This is an incredibly important time for British farming as we manage the UK’s transition to new trading relations while seeking to strengthen our position as producing the best quality and most sustainable products in the world. Pilgrim’s UK has established a unique approach to working with farmers which has helped establish its well-deserved reputation as the leading high welfare producer globally and it is going further and faster than anyone else in the industry in committing to net zero by 2030. I can’t wait to get started and help take Pilgrim’s agricultural operations even further.”

Andrew will provide support to Barney as he takes on the role of Pilgrim’s UK agriculture director from November 8, 2021.