Food and Drink Graduate Jobs - Careers Guide

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The food and drink sector is a multi-billion pound global industry that spans continents and employs 500,000 people in the UK alone.

A large part of the food and drink business is the creating, production, selling, transportation and distribution of products amongst suppliers such as supermarkets and other retailers.

There is also the area of work that helps people get the most health benefits from their food and advises on healthy eating - this sector employs dieticians and nutritionists in places such as hospitals and clinics.

The food and drink industry is ever-changing, largely due to consumer demand and changing health concerns, and in the 21st Century the sector is looking forward to a sustainable future. A primary concern in the industry is where food comes from, how it has been sourced and how those at the bottom of the production chain are treated.

What degree do I need?TOP ^

To work in food processing you can have any degree, although certain subjects are likely to be more beneficial to you than others. They include:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Food science
  • Microbiology
  • Applied science
  • Nutrition
  • Dietetics

If you are interested in a career in nutrition or dietetics, you will need a degree in this specific area, or in a subject such as food science.

What skills do I need?TOP ^

The most important skill for a career in the food and drink industry is an in depth knowledge of science - the processes that go into manufacturing food rely heavily on chemistry and the nutritional affect that they will have on people.

Additionally you will need a strong commercial awareness, deep understanding of what the market needs and what the consumer will buy, and the ability to sell the value of your product to anyone you come into contact with.

General skills required include:

As a dietician or nutritionist you will need to team your knowledge of human sciences and nutrition with good communication, the ability to work with people, tact, compassion and good organisation.

What graduate food and drink job can I do? TOP ^

The essential nature of food and drink business means there are always opportunities for graduates in this sector.

Areas within the food and drink industry that you could become involved in include:

  • Food processing
  • Product design
  • Manufacture
  • Sales
  • Transportation/ distribution
  • Marketing
  • Buying
  • Nutrition/ dietetics

There may also be the opportunity to get on a graduate scheme in the food and drink sector. Graduate programmes give you a structured pattern of work, set goals to reach, and often offer the chance of a permanent job after the completion of your scheme. Schemes are likely to last between 18 months and two years.

Schemes are likely to focus on one specific area of business, e.g. management, finance or marketing, or combine separate areas in order to give trainees a taste of all areas of work.

Average food and drink salariesTOP ^

Salaries in the food and drink sector vary greatly depending on your location, experience and of course your job role.

Nutritionists have an average wage of £21,000 but could earn as high as £52,350, whilst dieticians earn between £23,600 and £39,500.

In a food manufacturing roles average salaries are as follows:

  • Food technologist: £24,130
  • Production manager, manufacturing: £31,078
  • National account manager: £38,988
  • Non-technical product buyer: £30,197
  • Operations manager: £41,142
  • Quality assurance manager: £31, 427
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