Meet Our Pea-Ple - Get to know James Hopwood

Location

York, North Yorkshire

What do you do?

I am the UK Agriculture Manager at Birds Eye, responsible for leading the UK’s agricultural operation, reporting into Nomad Group’s Agricultural Director for Europe.

How do you like your peas?

With every meal (and with a little knob of butter)! Also enjoy a pea and mint soup.

1. How long have you worked in the pea industry?

I joined Birds Eye nearly two years ago, following in the shoes of a succession of great Agriculture Managers who have built Birds Eye up to be the Company with the rich culture and heritage in producing peas that it is today. Unlike those in the role before me, I didn’t come from a fieldsman background but brought over a decade of experience in agricultural supply chain management and a different perspective on supply chains.

2. How did you start?

I came from a farming background, brought up on a farm near York. I didn’t see myself going into agriculture at a young age, it wasn’t very well publicised at school, but I was interested in the wide variety of positions within the industry and decided to study Agriculture and Land Management at Harper Adams University. From graduation, I started my career in a lettuce field, working within leafy salads, from which I moved into the potato industry. You could say I’m a jack of all trades, having experienced a wide variety of positions from crop production to commercial roles but it gave me the underpinning skills required for the role I have today at Birds Eye. I’m fortunate now to work in one of the most unique food supply chains in the world.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is unique but my day to day role is centred around making the Birds Eye agricultural operation as good as it can be – from developing and training a talented team to building a robust and strong department to streamlining the way we operate and continually pushing for increasing productivity.

My mandate involves thinking strategically about the future of agriculture and more specifically, safeguarding pea production in the UK for the next 50 years. This includes looking at how we integrate new technologies within food production, such as using data from satellites and the use of microbiology, to enhance the growth of our crops.

I am also responsible for leading a fantastic team of talented individuals within our UK agriculture team, supporting them to do their jobs to the best of their ability and develop their careers at Birds Eye. They are the heartbeat of the operation and it is great testament to the team and plans they put in place to see 1,000+ tonnes of peas going through the gates of factory every day in harvest. I also manage relationships with key stakeholders – from our supplier group, some 250 farmers at the Green Pea Company, right through to the factory team and marketing department.

4. Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Serious Party – Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela.

Fun Party – Billy Connolly, Greg Davis, Rob Brydon.

5. What is your second favourite vegetable? (Obviously peas take the top spot!)

Potatoes.

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