A working day…

Q. What in your background prepared you for your current role?

I completed a degree in dairy science in the mid-1980s and I have a masters in food chemistry from University College Cork. I’ve been with Kerry Group for over 35 years, and have worked in many roles, from R&D and quality control to business development. I enjoy adding value to milk and understanding the components of milk, the natural attributes of dairy, and the technologies involved in milk processing.

Q. What do you think is a key issue for your sector right now and why?

The challenge over the next five to 10 years is to achieve the carbon reductions that the Irish government has set out for the agricultural sector, which is 25 per cent by 2030. It is a challenging target to achieve, as around 90 per cent of the carbon footprint comes from inside the farm, with the other 10 per cent coming from the rest of the processing supply chain.

Our sustainability strategy, Beyond the Horizon, supports Kerry’s ambition to reach over two billion people with sustainable nutrition solutions, including sustainable dairy ingredients, by 2030. We are committed to working with our 3,000 milk suppliers to deliver on sustainability commitments into the future.

Evolve, our dairy sustainability programme, is designed to support the accelerated adoption of science-based sustainable action and best practice across our family farms. We are leading the transition to and acceleration of more sustainable farming practices by providing targeted financial support to build on existing achievements and grow the knowledge of and engagement with sustainable farming practices.

Ireland’s dairy farming system is quite efficient at producing milk, maybe a bit more than other countries, with its grass-based system. I sometimes wonder why we are trying to reduce milk output in Ireland, when other countries are less efficient than we are, but we should lead by example and reduce carbon outputs where we can.

Q. What is the most in-demand Kerry product for the dairy sector? Why?

We are investing in the cheese snacking business in Ireland. There is demand for Cheestrings across Europe, and we have invested in increasing capacity by 50 per cent at our Charleville site, when it opens in October 2023. Once the €30 million factory comes on line, it will help fill the demand for natural cheese snacks. We help bring nutrition to families across Europe with positive, cheese snacking products.

Q. What new products are coming to market?

We have invested heavily in protein fractionation of milk, and we often tailor make products to meet their needs. We work with the biggest global food and beverage companies in the world. Over the last few years, plant-based has gained a lot of traction, so we have launched a number of plant-based cheeses in Ireland and the UK in last 12 months, meeting the demand from consumers and our customers.

Q. What do you consider your greatest achievement/challenge?

My greatest achievement has been travelling across Europe over last 25 years, managing a lot of different operations. It’s been a great experience for my family as well. We met fantastic people and made great friends. It’s been good to have the opportunity to see a lot of the world through my work with Kerry.

My challenges have been heading up different operations in Europe, where we had to make sure every factory was as efficient as possible, and meeting the health, safety and quality standards that Kerry insists on. It’s about ensuring products got to the customers on time, and hitting all the service levels. Especially after Covid-19 and with the Ukrainian war, customers want reliability of service and quality. We provide the best quality products in the dairy sector and always hit the service levels for our customers.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me starts at 8am and may finish at 6pm, depending on the schedule.

We have an excellent team across our dairy business, guided by a very strong management team. The customer is always a key focus for the entire team, and working with our 3,000 dairy farmers is a pleasure.

Q. Outside of work, what are your hobbies/interests?

I have four daughters of various ages, so it’s often family time. However, my biggest hobby is cycling. Right now, I’m gearing up for the annual Big Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle – over 5,000 people participate to cycle this beautiful countryside.


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