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3 June 2020

“We need to support farmers to cope with what the industry and final consumer are demanding from them”

Aware of the challenges of the dairy and beef industry, one of the primary goals of VikingGenetics’ new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Henrik Biilmann is to create added value for dairy and beef farmers, both in the home markets – Denmark, Sweden and Finland – and in all 50 export markets.

“We can do this in many ways, but it is fundamental to have a dialogue with the dairy companies and meat producers to understand each other. Where do they expect to be able to pay more value to the farmers? What do they expect the farmers to be good at in 10 years? When we have set these premises, we need to support farmers and drive breeding programs that help take the dairy and beef farmers in that direction”, CEO Henrik Biilmann, explains.

Henrik Biilmann is an experienced international leader from the farmer-owned cooperatives, Arla Foods Amba, and most recently in his previous position as CEO of Friland , a subsidiary of Danish Crown Group, which focuses on organic and free-range pork and beef production.

In light of the challenges farming is facing, climate change, animal welfare and the effects of the pandemic of Covid-19, Biilmann says VikingGenetics has a vital role to play. The company, he adds, needs to answer not only to dairy and beef farmers, but also to a more informed end-consumer. “There is a clear demand for more sustainable products, not only to counter climate change, but also for animal health from the breeding point of view”.

VikingGenetics has an advantage in breeding for resilient animals with high genetic quality to address those concerns, but the future will require a lot of communication at different levels, and communication is one strong leading asset for the new CEO.

During the confusing days of downtime due to Covid-19, he has kept the 160-plus employees informed daily and strategically aligned just weeks after starting his new position. “We must be able to communicate across the various lines in the organization. New ideas  and different points of views are already easily shared in the organization, and it is the easier way to ensure you are going the right way or to know when you are not”.

Biilmann explains that this asset will be beneficial when getting feedback from the breeding associations, cooperatives, distributors, farmers, and customers and transforming it into something valuable. “It is not a matter of building those connections, we already have them, but a matter of translating these talks into insights that lead to value”, he says.

Henrik Biilmann lives in Stavtrup on the southern outskirts of Aarhus, Denmark, is 49 years old, married to Kirsten and has two daughters aged 19 and 15.