Friday 7 May 2021Meet the Duynie Team - Martin
Environmental responsibility is a big part of the Duynie story, so it’s only right that we have a dedicated Sustainability Manager. With his keen eye for detail, thirst for knowledge and wide-ranging insight into agriculture and the co-product business, Martin Barker’s the ideal man for the job.
So, Martin, what exactly does a Sustainability Manager get up to?
Having started with Duynie in late 2019 as UK Pig Sales Manager, I recently made the move to the sustainability role. My main responsibility is to engage with customers, processors and retailers, as well as industry bodies. The aim is to intensify relationships and help the food chain reduce its carbon footprint while increasing profitability.
What route did you take to get to your current role?
I was born on a family farm and moved on to run one of the UK’s biggest agriculture businesses. Back in the 1990s, I got involved with Quality Assurance and I still have a hand in setting national standards today, as a sitting founder member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the UK’s Red Tractor Scheme. I’ve also advised the UK government since 2014 on the DEFRA Animal Welfare Committee.
I’m keen to ensure new developments in environmental standards work alongside developments in animal welfare and health. For example, using straw might benefit welfare, but it has a high carbon footprint, so might not be the best choice for the environment. This is where my interest in co-products started and why I wanted to join Duynie. I believe we can develop lots of products – not just feed – to help achieve net-zero.
What are the best bits of your job?
I enjoy solving puzzles, so helping customers identify problems and find solutions gives me a great buzz. I’m currently looking for extra income streams for low-carbon feed users and aim to make climate change a driver for financial benefit rather than an additional cost. I find it rewarding talking to farmers – especially those I’ve known for years and who want to take me on a tour to show off their farm.
Where do the challenges lie?
The pandemic has been challenging, but that’s the same for everyone. It’s made the supply chain very volatile and managing customer expectation has been tricky.
Tell us what projects you’re getting stuck into at the moment…
There’s always a lot going on. We’ve just taken on a new Pig Sales Manager and this has freed me up to create a carbon credit scheme for low-carbon feed users. We’re hoping this will attract public funding, as it’s in the wider interest. It means talking to processors and retailers to try to increase the availability of co-product.
Thanks to my colleague Harry Snitselaar in Holland, we’re developing a higher dry-matter solution for potato products. Reducing water use in factories can be a benefit throughout the supply chain.
I’m also working with a farmer towards accessing government funding to harvest ammonia from livestock for hydrogen-fuel extraction. If it works, it’ll be the first fossil-fuel-free hydrogen to be commercially available.
What do you bring to the table when building relationships?
I work with the belief that I’m selling a commodity in a saturated market, so I need to bring something unique to the customer or supplier. That’s generally the potential for new or improved income streams for their existing product, rather than just the most aggressive price. As I’m a government advisor, I often know what regulation changes are imminent. This frequently leads to me being asked to help farmers fill in forms and clarify what the rules mean at a practical level.
What does life look like outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my three grandchildren – they keep me thinking I’m young, even if the reality is slightly different. I’m quite competitive and like most sports. Luckily, I have friends who can get their hands on tickets for Newcastle United games, international rugby matches and Formula 1 days. With my background in agriculture, I like to help organise local ploughing matches and hedge-laying competitions, as well as judging county crop competitions, where I get to meet many farmers.
Even though I grew up on a dairy farm, had one of the first pedigree Limousin herds in the UK and have won prizes with cattle, sheep and arable enterprises, every birthday and Christmas I get cards with pigs on. Unbelievable.