Food and Drink Federation appoints Karen Betts as chief executive

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation is set to appoint a new chief executive, Karen Betts, to lead the  organisation from 2022, reports Neill Barston.

Representing a broad spectrum of businesses across industry, including key brands in confectionery, snacks and bakery markets, the organisation has sought to advise and support the sector on major policy developments including Brexit and new global trading arrangement.

Betts, presently serving as Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, will take over from the present postholder Ian Wright, who will be stepping down from the end of this year after seven years in the post.

The FDF’s incoming CEO will has previously had a two decade career in the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service, latterly as HM Ambassador to Morocco. She will succeed Ian Wright, who steps down at the end of 2021 after seven years in the role.

Before joining the FCO, Karen worked as a lawyer for Clifford Chance in London and Hong Kong. She studied law at the College of Law in Guildford and history at St. Andrews University.

Karen is an Adviser to the UK Government’s Board of Trade, the Chair of the CBI’s International Trade and Investment Council, a member of the Scottish Government’s Trade Board and a Trustee of Raleigh International.

Announcing the appointment, FDF President Jon Woods said:“Karen Betts has an outstanding track record of achievement representing both our country, and one of our most important and valuable industries.

“This is a time of unprecedented change and opportunity for the food and drink industry. As we emerge from the challenges of Brexit and Covid-19, Karen will bring great understanding of, and experience in, working closely with Governments and some of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies. She has spent the last four years speaking for an industry with deep provenance and a range of businesses of all sizes determined that they, too, should be heard.

“In the last seven years, FDF has entrenched its position as the leading representative organisation for food and drink manufacturing. Membership has grown five-fold to almost a thousand companies. FDF’s unique mix of advisory services and advocacy, and the unparalleled expertise of its staff, offer a great platform for further dynamic growth. We are confident that Karen is the person to lead the FDF into an exciting and successful future.”

Speaking on her appointment Betts said she was delighted to be appointed to the role in championing the cause of a diverse range of industry businesses that together represent the largest manufacturing sector in the UK.

She said: “These are rapidly changing times, with challenges and opportunities for the industry to grasp in everything from addressing climate change, to skills and livelihoods, and healthy diets. I am looking forward to working with the FDF’s members, the FDF team, with government and other organisations as we find the best answers to these questions for all involved.”



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