Tesco’s group quality director Tim Smith is retiring after 40 years in the food industry.

Smith will depart the supermarket giant at the end of February after four-and-a-half years with the business.

He previously held leadership roles with a clutch of producers including Northern Foods, Sara Lee and Arla Foods, and also served as the chief executive of the Food Standards Agency for five years before joining Tesco in 2012.

Smith will remain at the grocer in an advisory role to help shape its food policy and represent the business in areas such as food waste.

In an internal memo to staff today, Tesco chief commercial officer Jason Tarry said: “Tim’s unrivalled experience and knowledge has been invaluable to us in recent years.

“He has provided wise counsel internally and been a trusted representative externally, particularly on building trusted relationships with suppliers and helping us to develop leading positions on agriculture, product development, food waste, and health.”