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Next Generation of potato industry leaders assemble at AHDB

24 May 2016

The second year of the highly-rated AHDB Potatoes ‘Next Generation’ initiative launched last Friday 20 May at AHDB Headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

Successful applicants completed a highly competitive video application process to become one of the final 13 delegates, competing with the most talented and passionate individuals from across the Great British potato supply chain.

Norfolk-based Alistair Neill, leaving a background in the printing business three years ago and now Trainee Agronomist for Produce Solutions (part of the Greenvale AP group), said “I applied for two years running and am delighted to be one of seven ambitious repeat applicants to finally land a place on the programme this year.

“I was attracted to the potato industry because it’s fast-paced and ever-changing.

“I’m looking forward to widening my general understanding of this industry, appreciating its challenges and gaining valuable contacts I can call upon in the future.

“The exposure to the industry that the Next Generation Programme will provide me will be invaluable. It’s an experience that would be tricky to replicate in my normal working environment.”

Benefitting from the feedback provided by the first group, this year’s delegates invested considerable time networking and getting to know each other over the course of the highly discursive and interactive day.

A short networking session revealed their businesses, roles and personalities alongside outdoor ice-breaker activities to stimulate communication and promote team-working.

Simon Leaver, Commercial Manager at fresh peeled potato and chip suppliers, Fylde Fresh and Fabulous, and delegate of the first year’s group, also returned, keen to continue his engagement.

Mr Leaver introduced the company business model, and the story behind their investment in an on-site potato peeling factory and £2m biogas plant using the latest Anaerobic Digestion technology fed by their primary bi-product, dried potato trimmings.

He gave a flavour of their current challenges before preparing the group to take full advantage of the opportunities they had ahead of them.

“This programme puts you out there. It gives you the opportunity to network but also to build your own skills up. And the more you put into this process, the more value you’ll get in return too.”

In the afternoon, the group engaged in intimate workshops providing snapshots of levy-funded activities arranged around AHDB’s new aligned structure.

AHDB experts in market intelligence, consumer marketing and education, research and innovation, and communications engaged in open and transparent conversations with the group on a range of topics, including how the right science is selected for funding and the generally unseen process of issues and media management.

“It’s been a really positive, engaging start and I’m proud to be part of this likeminded group who are enthusiastic about their future in potatoes,” reflected Edward Backhouse, partner within his family farm located in East Yorkshire predominantly supplying the chip shop sector.

“I went away from AHDB with a much greater understanding of where my levy goes and the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to secure the reputation of our sector.”

In total the group will complete nine comprehensive industry visits over the year, covering a range of industry sectors across multiple regions and with varying focuses to the days.

The Next Generation Programme serves to develop the future leaders of the GB potato industry through exposure to the whole supply chain.


2016/17 Next Generation Programme Delegates:

Adam Lidstone (A J Lidstone & Son)
Alistair Neill (Produce Solutions)
Andrew Johnston (Albanwise Ltd)
Annabel Hamilton (Patrick Dean Ltd)
Dave Lee (W.Lee & Company)
Edward Backhouse (C S Backhouse)
Jimmy Dagg (G I Dagg & Partners)
Jonah Ehmann (Greenseed International)
Josh Thomson (Ibbotson’s Produce)
Nick Crow (Cherrington Farm)
Richard Wilson (RS Cockerill (York) Ltd)
Steven Bell (Albert Bartlett & Sons)
William Brice (Frederick Hiam Ltd)

- Ends –


For more information: Helen Williams, AHDB Potatoes Communications Executive,, 024 7647 8662

Notes to editors:

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a Non-Departmental Public Body funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain through statutory levies. It is managed as an independent organisation. Its purpose is to equip levy payers with independent, evidence based information and tools to grow, become more competitive and sustainable.

The ‘AHDB Potatoes’ brand serves to highlight AHDB work and resources that help make the British potato industry more sustainable, competitive and profitable, and stimulate use of the GB potato crop in home and export markets (

Left to right: Outdoor team-working session; Next Generation delegates discussing consumer marketing and education; Next Generation delegates speaking with James Wilde (AHDB Head of Media & PR)

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