Potato Industry Award Goes to McCain GB CEO Nick Vermont
The winner of this year’s British Potato Industry Award is Nick Vermont. The chief executive officer of McCain GB was saluted by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) at BP2015, regarded as the UK’s foremost potato industry trade event, held in Harrogate.
The award was presented during the “Next Generation” reception. Fiona Fell, chair of AHDB Potatoes, commented: “Not only is Nick such a deserving winner, but it is particularly fitting that this award is presented to him in the company of some of our industry’s best and brightest ‘next generation’ here at BP today, demonstrating to them just how far a career in the potato industry can take you.”
Fiona continued: “Nick has given a huge amount of time and energy to drive value from the potato levy for the industry as a board and committee member. Involved since the inception of the Potato Marketing Board through British Potato Council days, and on to the newly-formed AHDB Potatoes, Nick’s experience, attention to detail and marketing expertise have proved invaluable to our industry over many years.”
A career in the potato sector offers many and varied opportunities to excel and Vermont’s professional resume charts an unbroken chain of successes. He joined McCain Foods in 1983 and has held positions of increasing responsibility in the marketing departments of the GB and Canadian businesses, working across different product categories and channels.
Early on he benefited greatly from the advice and mentoring provided by titans of the industry and McCain Foods, which provided the foundation for the many achievements he was to realize over the next three decades.
“I had the great privilege to work with Harrison and Wallace McCain, and in particular with Mac McCarthy, founder of McCain GB. I learned at an early age from these industry legends the inter-relationship between a thriving potato industry and McCain’s success, the need to work with everyone in the supply chain and, above all, to take the long-term view.”
In 1991 Vermont was promoted from marketing manager of McCain Foods GB to managing director of PAS (Grantham) Ltd, the McCain division responsible for UK retailer label potato products. It was at this time that he joined the Potato Processors Association, and also sat on the joint consultative committee (the group formed to advise the government on the future of the Potato Marketing Scheme and its successor body).
In 1998 Vermont was named managing director of McCain Foods (GB) Ltd, and in 2004 took on the role of regional ceo. As well as embracing responsibilities for GB and Ireland activities, he has from time to time also looked after business in South Africa and Eastern Europe, and overseen the establishment of the company’s global commercial function.
Outside of McCain, when the British Potato Council (BPC) was formed in 1997, he represented the processing sector and went on to serve on three BPC and two Potato Council boards, finally standing down in 2012. For many years he was also chairman of the marketing committee.
Vermont has worked tirelessly to break down barriers in the supply chain in order to increase transparency and to build real and lasting partnerships. Over the years, in his encouragement for supply chains to work together for greater efficiency and prosperity, he has often pointed out that “neither our neighbors nor our customers are the enemy.”
During his tenure, McCain GB has grown to be one of the country’s leading and most innovative consumer brands, and one of the few food brands still operating in the foodservice sector. With an insatiable appetite for continuous improvement and growth, he has ensured that McCain continues its history of driving the company and the industry forward, whether it be in variety development, agronomy, contract structure, grower relations or communications.
“All of this is a huge team effort, not just from the immediate McCain team but from the whole McCain GB potato supply chain – from their newest recruit, to the many third-generation growers and the myriad of specialist suppliers, be it haulage, storage, agronomy or fertilizers,” concluded Vermont.