Jacqui was CEO at Berry Gardens, a UK cooperative of fruit growers until 2019. Before this she was General Manager of Wingland Foods (Bakkavor), prior to that Commercial Director at Capespan and in the early 2000’s General Manager of IPL, set-up by Asda to directly source their produce.
In 2019 she founded Viridis Associates, with the overarching purpose of spending her time focusing on people, profit and the planet. She is passionate about personal development and, as well as her Consulting and Non-Executive Director roles, she works as a Mentor and is a qualified Transformational Coach.
What's the single biggest challenge facing our industry today?
People! In it’s broadest sense - young people coming in to farming and seeing it as a career and, of course, the skills around agronomy, manufacturing, agriculture, crop husbandry, irrigation, picking, packing, quality assurance. We need a joined up approach between all the Government departments and trade bodies to focus our attention on skills and affordability of / grants towards training.
What do you think the next big product / piece of tech will be?
I would hope it will be in the shape of accessible, meaningful climate-ag tech, ensuring that we are holding agriculture across the world to account for reducing the devastating impact we are having on our planet and leading the way for other industries to follow. Right now, this space feels a bit like the Wild West and needs clarity, regulation and investment.
What do you like most about our industry?
The constant pace of change. Being surrounded by the passion of entrepreneurial growers, the ambition of retailers and the drive for continuous improvement. I am heartened to see the industry taking more time to consider those who are less fortunate and with charities like City Harvest, true partnerships can ensure healthy nutritious food is accessible to those in food poverty.
What was your first ever job in our industry?
I was the junior Account Manager for Marks & Spencer and Sainsburys at AFI soft fruit.It was a baptism of fire and I loved every minute.
What piece of advice would you like to give to your 21-year-old self?
Enjoy your job but don’t let your job define you. Stay true to your values and, if you find yourself somewhere that does not fit comfortably with your moral code, make a move. There is somewhere or something out there for you where your skills AND values are equally desired. You might just have to turn over a few stones to find it.