So Tara McCarthy is leaving Bord Bia. It’s possibly a little soon to assess her tenure, whether the Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) for grass-fed beef succeeds or not may determine how farmers view the last five years.
Many of the more outlandish stories that toured the beef factory protests in 2019 completely misunderstood or misrepresented the nature of Bord Bia’s work, but it’s also true that farmers have lost some trust in an agency they fund significantly.
As she settles into life outside the public sector with Alltech, who is likely to replace her?
If it’s an internal candidate, how about Karen Coyle? She ticks many of the boxes, having worked with Premier Dairies, C&C and then Aryzta, within Cuisine de France. Having run her own communications company during the Celtic Tiger years, she joined Bord Bia, and headed the US operation for a decade. For the last four years, she has been global communications director.
Perhaps Bord Bia will want the next CEO to be more farmer-facing. If so, there are two obvious candidates. Padraig Brennan was meat, food and beverages director of Bord Bia until recently, when he left to set up his own consulting firm in his native Kilkenny.
He has experience right through Bord Bia, having been senior business analyst, sustainability development manager, and director of markets across a 15-year career within the State agency. Will he throw his hat in the ring?
Joe Burke is the face of Bord Bia for many farmers. As livestock director, he is a frequent presence at farmers meetings, and he talks a language farmers understand. A Nuffield scholar, his appointment would answer claims that drystock farmers are the forgotten sector of Irish farming.
Jim O’Toole is CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara. O’Toole previously spent 23 years with Bord Bia, having had a number of marketing posts across Europe before managing the Quality Assurance scheme from 2007-2012, and then becoming meat and livestock director (prior to Joe Burke), and director of meat and sustainability development.
Having succeeded Tara McCarthy in the seafood development agency hotseat five years ago, will lightning strike twice?
Helen King, like Padraig Brennan, left to found her own consultancy. As director of strategic planning and insight, she would have built up a strong understanding of Bord Bia’s strengths and weaknesses.
Deirdre Ryan has had two stints with Bord Bia. She currently heads the sustainability and Quality Assurance scheme, and has responsibility for Origin Green. Having also worked for Lidl, she has an understanding of what retailers want, if that’s what is wanted.
Bord Bia has confirmed one new appointment. John Murray, formerly of Kerry, is taking over Padraig Brennan’s portfolio. Murray started out in Bord Bia, and has worked with Agri Aware, Superquinn, Ornua and most recently Kerry Foods.