ROYAL Smithfield Club president, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has presented former Waitrose and Partners director Heather Jenkins with the Club’s annual bicentenary trophy in recognition of 30 years of outstanding service to the agriculture and meat sectors.

The Countess thanked Mrs Jenkins for her dedication and commitment to UK farming as the award was presented to her following an industry strategy group meeting of the Smithfield Forum at Convocation Hall, Westminster, London.

As Waitrose and Partners director for meat, poultry, fish, frozen food and dairy, and director of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries strategy, Heather Jenkins pioneered many industry-leading initiatives during her career as well as working extensively to positively influence Government food and farming policies.

Announcing the award, club chairman William Bedell said Mrs Jenkins’s influence on UK farming and livestock production had been both positive and wide ranging: “Her role in the success of Waitrose and Partners support for UK agriculture and the success of the wider business cannot be overstated and neither can her support for and love of farming.”

Mrs Jenkins supported a policy that ensured Waitrose and Partners pioneered short supply chains, close links with its farmers and the sale of mostly British produced meat. She also insisted on award-winning animal welfare standards across its supply chain, including in the production of its Continental meats – all positions that the company continues to maintain.

Her wider support of British farming has led to many claimed UK industry firsts, including directing male dairy calves into the beef and veal supply chain, and a farming partnership scheme to help farmers manage costs, drive innovation and research, and reduce their dependence on imported soya beans for animal feed. She also positioned Waitrose to become the first supermarket buyer to sell only free-range eggs.

“From lairage design to butchery standards, factory design, improved animal welfare and industry-leading relationships with farmers, fishermen, and other suppliers Heather has been involved,” said Mr Bedell.