SAOS welcomes new team members to broaden its involvement in agri-food sector

Stephen Sanderson will manage the delivery of the new Food Integrity Assurance business and Patrick Hughes will lead the establishment of the Scottish Export Hub

Scottish agri-co-op apex SAOS (Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) has announced two new appointments as it looks to broaden its involvement in the wider food and farming industry.

Stephen Sanderson joined the organisation in October to manage the delivery of its new Food Integrity Assurance (FIA) business – and industry-focused venture set up to deliver brand assurance to protect and promote products from Scotland’s food and farming sector.

FIA has been appointed as the new assurance partner for Quality Meat Scotland to ensure requirements for whole chain assurance are met to underpin the integrity of the premium Scotch and Specially Selected brands.

Mr Sanderson is a former farm manager who gained experience of dairy farming and associated beef and sheep and cereal production, before moving into quality assurance and certification. He went on to senior roles as agricultural operations manager for Acoura, and more recently as a global technical director with a focus on sustainable primary production standards.

He said: “I feel privileged to join SAOS at such an exciting juncture as we launch FIA to bring the significant benefit that a truly industry focused certification business can bring to the Scottish food production sector, including SAOS’s co-op members. It’s a pleasure to join such a proactive organisation where the strengths of co-operation and collaboration are demonstrated every day, enabling new projects like FIA to achieve success.”

In November, Patrick Hughes joined the team to lead on the establishment of the Scottish Agri Export Hub, in collaboration with NFU Scotland. The hub is funded through the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership and supported by Scottish government, and will establish a specialist export resource with support focusing on providing benefits to primary producers.

Mr Hughes has held a number of roles in the food and agri sector, most recently working as export development manager for seed potatoes with AHDB.

He said: “I am delighted to be involved in this exciting project to help develop new opportunities for farmers and growers in Scotland. In addition to identifying, understanding, and developing new opportunities, we’ll also look to expand on the existing export opportunities for Scottish agricultural produce.

“There is clear potential to build on the existing platforms in the potato sector and these offer exciting opportunities for cereals, fruit and vegetable producers.”

SAOS CEO Tim Bailey said: “Since its establishment in 1905, SAOS has continually evolved to meet changing needs, not only of our co-op members, but also for the good of the wider farming and food sector.

“As testament to this, and our ethos of employing people with a track record of working together effectively, we are delighted to invest in SAOS’s future by appointing the best people for these new roles. The new year will see the team continue to build to deliver SAOS’s ambitious plans to help shape the future of farming and food.”

SAOS – a co-op owned by around 60 member co-op with collective turnover of £1.5bn – was initially formed to further co-operation in Scottish agricultural organisations in 1905. This remit has expanded to explore and convert wider opportunities in food and drink supply chains, technology, innovation, data, quality assurance and climate change response.

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