Karen Betts is leaving her role as chief executive of the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) to take up the same role at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) later this year.
Ms Betts, who became the first female chief executive of the SWA in its 105 year history when she was appointed in 2017, will succeed Ian Wright who steps down from the national food ad drink trade body after seven years in the position.
Scott McCroskie, Scottish Whisky Association chair, thanked Ms Betts for her service to the industry.
He said: “After more than four years in post, Karen will leave the association with our heartfelt gratitude.
“She has steered the industry successfully through a turbulent period, critically while punitive tariffs were imposed on Scotch whisky by the United States, through the UK’s departure from the EU, and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Her leadership has helped the industry emerge in a strong and forward-looking position.
Her leadership has helped the industry emerge in a strong and forward-looking position.”
Scott McCroskie, SWA chair
“Her focus on increasing diversity in our workforce, achieving our net-zero emissions target and growing trade in key global markets will help to secure the industry’s success in years to come.”
Ms Betts joined the SWA after a 16 year career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
During a successful diplomatic career at the FCO, Ms Betts held a variety of posts in London and overseas. These included counsellor to the British Embassy in Washington, and roles at the UK’s permanent representation to the EU in Brussels and the British Embassy in Baghdad.
She has also served in the cabinet office and the joint intelligence committee. Prior to joining the FCO, she worked as a lawyer for Clifford Chance in London and Hong Kong. She studied law at the College of Law in Guildford and history at St Andrews University.
Ms Betts said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the Food and Drink Federation’s new chief executive, to represent the huge range of companies that keep food on our tables and make up UK’s largest manufacturing industry.
These are rapidly changing times, with challenges and opportunities for the industry to grasp in everything from addressing climate change, to skills and livelihoods, and healthy diets.”
“These are rapidly changing times, with challenges and opportunities for the industry to grasp in everything from addressing climate change, to skills and livelihoods, and healthy diets.
“I am looking forward to working with the FDF’s members, the FDF team, with government and other organisations as we find the best answers to these questions for all involved.”
Welcoming the announcement Jon Woods, FDF president, said: “Karen Betts has an outstanding track record of achievement representing both our country, and one of our most important and valuable industries.
“This is a time of unprecedented change and opportunity for the food and drink industry.
This is a time of unprecedented change and opportunity for the food and drink industry.”
Jon Woods, FDF president
“As we emerge from the challenges of Brexit and Covid-19, Karen will bring great understanding of, and experience in, working closely with Governments and some of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies.”