Scottish industry changes guard at key posts

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With new rules afoot and the palpable sense they’re about to enter an era led by fish-health technology, public openness and global competition, the Scottish salmon industry this week saw changes at two key posts.

Julie Hesketh-Laird is about to take over as chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation following the retirement of Scott Landsburgh, who held the position for 10 years. Landsburgh had notified SalmonBusiness of the move in early January.

Hesketh-Laird was most recently deputy chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, and her appointment is a nod to the increasingly competitive battles for export market share on the way, both in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Salmon is Scotland’s and the UK’s largest food export, and Hesketh-Laird helped create record Scotch whisky exports.

Food-chain vets
Another food industry heavyweight, David Gregory, on Monday took over the top job at the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Center. The new lead is the former chairman of Red Tractor Assurance, but his experience spans 40 years criss-crossing the food chain from aquaculture to agriculture, fisheries to food production and retail food.

As biochemistry and biotech jump to the industry’s fore, Hesketh-Laird can tap her experience with the Chemical Industries Association and the water industry. She’ll start to lead the SSPO on February 19th, starting with a tour of farming companies and a visit to Seafood Expo North America.

Gregory, too, has links to science and research funding as a member of the Biotechnology Sciences Research Council. He’s also current president of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and a former chair of the British Nutrition Foundation.

Science, funding
“The team at SAIC is delighted that someone of David’s calibre is joining us as we move into our next phase and we look forward to working with him over the coming years,” Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, said in a statement.

Dr Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, a major funder of SAIC, added: “David’s unique combination of a career in the food industry and knowledge of science and research funding makes him the ideal candidate to be Chairperson of SAIC.

Those stepping down, however, will be missed. With the help of Landsburgh’s marketing work and good nature, the Scottish salmon industry achieved exports to the U.S. market now worth about GBP 200 million a year.

“Scott leaves big boots to fill,” Hesketh-Laird tweeted on Wednesday evening. Landsburgh tweeted his departure.