Attracting sector business conferences, meetings and events to the region will help to further position Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector on the global stage and create opportunities for our local industry.
Dr. Simon Doherty
Simon holds a senior position at the Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast where his interests are in livestock health & welfare, agricultural technology, One Health and food safety & sustainability. Prior to his presidency of the British Veterinary Association (2018-19), he was the Animal Sciences & Aquaculture Sector Specialist for the Department for International Trade and was appointed as a GlobalScot by the Office of the First Minister of Scotland in 2018. He was appointed to the Trade & Agriculture Commission Standards Working Group in 2020. He has two decades of experience in veterinary practice, industry and academia, and he is a Certified Aquaculture Veterinarian.
The inaugural Chair of the UK One Health Coordination Group, Simon recently chaired the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe Food Safety & Sustainability Working Group and was appointed as an ad hoc expert to the World Veterinary Association One Health Strategic Focus Group. He is a past-president of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association and a Life Member of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society. Simon was a consultant to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare’s report on the future provision of small abattoirs and was the founding chair of the Abattoir Sector Group.
Dr Simon Doherty BVMS CertAqV MRQA CBiol FRSB ARAgS FRCVS
Michele Shirlow MBE is the Chief Executive of FoodNI, dedicated to enhancing the reputation of food and drink from Northern Ireland. Following delivery of the first ever Year of Food and Drink in 2016, which increased visitor attitudes towards NI food and drink by 23%, Michele is spearheading the Our Food. Power of Good. strategy. FoodNI is a membership organisation which represents over 450 member companies (including 200 Taste of Ulster Restaurants) Michele is also a Board Member of TourismNI.
Communication & CR Manager
Brian Moreland is the Communications & Corporate Responsibility Manager at Moy Park, a top 15 UK food business and one of Europe’s leading poultry processors. As a Communications & Corporate Responsibility Manager for Northern Ireland’s largest private sector business, Brian ensures the company channels its resources and talent to enthusiastically support and develop a range of CSR initiatives touching on social, health, economic and environment. Moy Park currently partners with organisations including Young Enterprise as well as charities including Alzheimer’s Society.
Dr. Mike Johnston
Mike has an MA and PhD in marketing from Ulster University, where he is a visiting professor within the university’s business school. He is also the Northern Ireland Director of Dairy UK and a member of the Board of the European Milk Forum. He is Chairman of CAFRE’s College Advisory Group and represents the dairy sector on a number of working groups including as the Chairman of the Dairy Subgroup of the Greenhouse Gas Implementation Partnership. Mike is currently vice Chairman of the International Dairy Federation’s Standing Committee on Marketing.
In 2016 Mike was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for his services to the dairy industry in Northern Ireland.
Wesley grew up and still lives on a small livestock farm in Markethill, Co Armagh and he graduated from Edinburgh University with a Degree in Agriculture in 1989.
He started his career with the UFU in 1991, firstly as Policy Officer for Pigs, Poultry and Fish Farming before moving across to cover Dairying and heading up the Union’s Policy Team in 1995 and more recently the Union’s Communications Team.
During his time with the UFU he has represented the Union at local, UK and EU levels and has been centrally involved in the UFU’s activity on virtually all of the major issues affecting Northern Ireland’s farmers over the past twenty years including: several CAP reforms; BSE, Foot and Mouth Disease, and Dioxin crises; £3 million Snow Hardship and £1.3 million Fodder Transport Schemes; a major ongoing Farm Safety Initiative; deregulation of the NI Milk Marketing Board; establishment of AgriSearch and Animal Health and Welfare NI; EU Nitrates Directive implementation; several farm capital investment and agri-environment schemes; secured £6 million of agri-monetary compensation for LFA farmers; major review of agri food related bureaucracy; introduction of sheep electronic identification; development of NI Executive’s Rural White Paper; introduction of £3 million Young Farmers’ Scheme; National Park opposition; Fermanagh flooding; Open Farm Weekend; retailer protests and creation of UK’s Groceries Code Adjudicator; ‘Horsemeat Scandal’; NI Agri-food Strategy Board input; introduction of Bovine TB Badger TVR trials; and introduction of a mobile ‘farmer health check’ service.
Dr. Elizabeth Magowan
Director or Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences
Dr Elizabeth Magowan has been the Director of Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division in the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI) from 2017. Elizabeth has worked extensively on industry/academic collaborative studies and presented her work across the UK and at international conferences as well as publications in journals. Elizabeth was awarded the Sir John Hammond Award in 2017, from the British Society of Animal Science, in recognition of her scientific work in collaboration with industry. Key achievements for Elizabeth include performing the scientific co-ordinator of a multi-million euro EU FP7 project ECO FCE, leading AFBI’s membership of the UK Centre of Excellence for Livestock (CIEL) as well as undertaking the role of interim director of CIEL in its formative months. Elizabeth is also currently a Vice President of the British Society of Animal Science and a member of BBSRC’s Sustainable Agri-food strategic advisory panel. Elizabeth’s current role as Director of Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences in AFBI involves significant co-ordination of AFBI’s science in the area of sustainable agri-food production as well as leading important AFBI initiatives, for example the development of AFBI’s Science Strategy to 2030 and development of important alliances and partnerships such as with QUB and CAFRE.
Michael has over thirty-seven years’ experience in food. He started his career in the bakery industry in Northern Ireland and Malta.
He has a Primary Honours Degree in Food Science. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (FIFST). He is a Chartered (Food) Scientist (CSci). He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (FIoD) and is a Chartered Director (CDir).
He holds a Leaders in Industry Programme Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector Award from Queen’s University Belfast. He has studied at McGill University, Cornell University, St Joseph’s University and Cranfield University.
He is a past Chairman of the Northern Ireland Agricultural Research and Development Council. He is a member of Safefood Expert Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Northern Ireland Food and Feed Advisory panel for the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland. He is a board member of Agri-Quest – the Food Innovation Competence Centre. He is a former Trustee of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust. He is Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. He is Vice President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.
In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, hill walking, good food and drink.
Professor Helene McNulty
Director of NICHE Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics
Professor McNulty is Director of NICHE, a centre of excellence for food and nutrition research at Ulster University. Her research addresses nutrition-related health issues throughout the lifecycle, with impacts for the food and health sectors in NI and beyond.
Having graduated from Trinity College Dublin (BSc and PhD in Nutrition) and the Dublin Institute of Technology (Diploma in Dietetics), Helene spent a short period working in the food industry before joining Ulster University in 1992. She was promoted to Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, in 2001.
Helene’s research programme aims to provide greater understanding of nutrition-related health issues throughout the lifecycle, and to contribute to food and health policy in Ireland, the UK and internationally. She has particular expertise in vitamins research and has published extensively in this field, building impacts in early life and ageing nutrition and frequently delivering keynote presentations at scientific conferences worldwide.
Helene’s research generates outcomes that can impact positively on people’s health throughout their lives: from pregnancy and early life through to middle and older age. She enjoys bringing her research into the classroom, to deliver teaching that is based on the latest scientific evidence in the field of human nutrition, ensuring that her students can benefit. Helene is actively involved in teaching at BSc and MSc levels and programme administration in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics, and has supervised 32 PhD students to successful completion to date.
Martin has been Director of CAFRE from 2016. He has over 30 years of experience working in a number of different roles supporting the sustainable growth of the Northern Ireland agri-food industry. CAFRE as an organisation delivers education programmes, from Level 2 to Honours Degree, to almost 2000 students wishing to pursue careers in the agri-food industry. CAFRE also delivers knowledge transfer and innovation programmes to over 10000 people working within the agri-food industry.
John was educated at St Malachy’s College, Belfast and then University of Ulster where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Advertising and Marketing followed by a Masters in Business Administration.
John has worked in the drinks sector for over 30 years. He joined Guinness NI immediately after leaving UUJ and had a 22 year career with Diageo. He worked in a variety of Sales, Marketing and General Manager roles in Ireland, Europe and Middle East, spending 6 years in Dubai with the company. Additionally, John worked with Walsh Whiskey, Carlow, Ireland.
In March 2021 John joined Belfast Distillery Company as CEO and is building a team which will Bring Distilling Back to Belfast, via a new distillery to be built in the A Wing of Crumlin Road Gaol.
John is married to Teresita and they have four children, Neill, Sean, Aidan and Fay. In his spare time John enjoys playing golf, coaching and watching his children at their various sports events.
Client Manager, Food and Drink
Gráinne has over 25 years’ experience working in economic development. In her current role in Invest NI, she works with food processing businesses, helping to accelerate their growth through a focus on export development, the adoption of new technologies, and investment in skills. She has recently completed a secondment working on the Ministerially-commissioned Independent Strategic Review of NI Agri-Food, led by Sir Peter Kendall.