Soil Association Certification appoints new CEO

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Soil Association Certification has appointed Dominic Robinson to replace Martin Sawyer as its new chief executive officer.

Mr Robinson arrives with a wealth of experience in environmental and forestry organisations and has had a close working relationship with Soil Association Certification since 2018. As an independent member of its Scrutiny Committee, Dominic was responsible for scrutinising decision making to ensure impartiality and the integrity of the standards being delivered. This has given him a great familiarity with the organisation and its people, together with a good understanding of its purpose, challenges and opportunities.

He joins Certification from Severn Trent Water where he was head of Visitor Experience for five years, responsible for managing the public, land and assets across 30 reservoirs. Working with partners across the land management and recreation sector, Dominic secured capital investment to develop the sites for the benefit of customers, local communities and the environment. Before this he was with Forestry England where he was responsible for certification of the 250,000ha public forest estate ensuring compliance with the UK Woodland Assurance Standard for FSC and PEFC certification. Other previous roles include managing Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest, home to the National Conifer Collection and a variety of senior roles with The Forestry Commission. 

Exciting times

Mr Robinson said: “This is such an exciting time to be joining Soil Association Certification Ltd. The demand for sustainable products and the need for hallmarks that can be trusted has never been so strong and is only going to increase. I am proud to be part of such an esteemed organisation, working with a passionate team to realise the opportunities that lie ahead.”

“Key to my approach is to create connections, nurture relationships and build partnerships to achieve more together – for the benefit of people and the environment. I will be looking to bring this into the CEO position, seeking to work with producers, clients, retailers, certification bodies and consumers to increase the market share of organic and sustainable forest products as well as the continued growth of carbon markets and ecosystem services.”

Mr Robinson lives in Solihull with his wife and two young children. As a child he used to play on his grandparent’s smallholding in Leicestershire and enjoyed family holidays on an organic dairy farm in North Wales. He studied Geography at Cambridge University and worked with Ryton Garden Organic to undertake research into nitrogen-fixing organic farming rotations. He went on to study Environmental Technology at Imperial College London and joined an intrepid expedition with the British Trust for Ornithology and Cambridge University to Siberia to identify High Conservation Value areas for FSC certification.

Martin Sawyer

Martin Sawyer retires from Soil Association Certification after seven years at the helm in which he has overseen many key developments and milestones not least the significant expansion of the organic and forestry businesses including the phenomenal performance and resilience of the Organic Market which broke the £3 billion mark in 2021. His stint at the Soil Association has been the culmination of a hugely successful career in the food industry, and he has brought that lifetime’s experience to the leadership and growth of the business.

Soil Association Group CEO Helen Browning said: “I will miss Martin immensely. He has led SA Certification admirably for the last seven years and I welcomed his wise advice and constructive approach, his calmness and perspective, particularly in recent years through all the trials and tribulations of Brexit and Covid. I know that the whole organisation and our symbol holders will want to thank him for everything he has done for us, as I do. We wish him the very best for the future.”

“It is a big welcome to Dominic – who is already a good friend of the Soil Association and the team in the Certification business. I look forward to working with him and I know he will bring vast energy, novel perspectives and enthusiasm for the twists and turns ahead.”

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About Author

Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is an avid follower of Stoke City.