Retail Buyer Wins Top Industry Award

7 November 2012, at 11:22pm

UK - At a ceremony at the House of Lords in London today, 7 November, the David Black Award for services to the nation's pig industry was presented to Heather Jenkins of supermarket chain, Waitrose.

Heather Jenkins
David Black Award winner 2012

This year's David Black Award winner, Heather Jenkins, caused a few raised eyebrows when it came time to choose what to do in her sandwich year while studying at Harper Adams - her first choice was to work in an abattoir!

That decision stemmed from her passion for agriculture, something that continues to this day in her position as Director of Buying for Meat, Poultry, Fish, Frozen Food and Dairy, and Agriculture Strategy for Waitrose. She is responsible for setting strategy and for the commercial objectives to deliver the best protein offer for Waitrose customers.

Ms Jenkins has a wealth of experience in her field and has been instrumental in establishing a dedicated Waitrose supply chain. During her time at Waitrose, she has developed the most comprehensive and diverse producer group structure in Europe, with more than 30 separate categories.

These groups have been developed in conjunction with dedicated processors, giving producers an assured market, a clear direction, and a more stable pricing base on which to build their business.

The David Black Award is sponsored by BPEX and given for a significant and sustained contribution to the British pig industry.

BPEX Chairman, Stewart Houston, said: "Heather has transformed British pork and pork products into sustainable, high quality, aspirational food. She has had an outstanding impact on British livestock production.

"Her support for British pig farming at times of severe volatility in input costs and finished pig prices has been a stabilising influence at times of uncertainty. She is a worthy winner of this year's David Black award."

Ms Jenkins said: "I'm a farmer's daughter from West Wales but I didn't want to be a farmer though I did want to be part of food and farming. Harper Adams was offering a course in agricultural marketing and I had designs on that when I was still at school. I completed an HND in agricultural marketing. As part of that, I had to do a sandwich year and much to the consternation of the college I wanted to work in an abattoir.

"I was both stunned and delighted to be told I was the winner of the David Black Award. It is very unexpected. I had attended a few of the breakfasts in the past but it never crossed my mind that I would, one day, be on the receiving end."

Ms Jenkins graduated from Harper Adams Agricultural College in Agri-Business and Food Marketing then joined Waitrose as a Section Management Trainee, specialising in meat rising to her current position in 2008.

She received her award from Defra Minister David Heath at an industry breakfast held in the House of Lords on 7 November.