Food and Drink
The food and drink industry can be a really exciting career choice for graduates from a whole range of backgrounds. There are around half a million people in the UK employed in the food and drink industry in roles such as processing, production and distribution of food and drink, with a wide variety of graduate jobs also available in areas such as manufacturing, sales, marketing, logistics, and purchasing.
You can build a great career as there are so many graduate jobs to choose from, and the industry is constantly evolving due to changing legislation and consumer demand, so whatever career you choose, no day will be the same and you can progress really quickly!
Food Manufacturing and Production
Food manufacturing is a complex business. An operations or production manager will be responsible for ensuring the production line runs smoothly, efficiently, cost effectively, and under strict time constraints. They will also need to be aware of food safety and respond quickly when things go wrong. Graduates looking for jobs in this area should expect to combine a high level of technical competence, with the ability to manage and lead what is often a large team of people. Being able to ‘think on your feet’ is essential, as is not being afraid to get your hands dirty!
A role in supply chain isn’t just about trucks and lorries, it is an essential part of the food and drinks industry. Being able to respond quickly to consumer need is important, and planning ahead is essential. For example, the supply chain must be slick enough to respond to an unexpected heat wave when there is a sudden demand for Barbeque food in the supermarkets, or the demand for a certain ingredient after a popular cookery show is aired. If you want to land a graduate job in this area you must be ambitious, and be willing to immerse yourself in the role and in your industry to ensure that you are always one step ahead. Adaptability and Flexibility is key in this job, as is the ability to work with people across all areas of the business.
Graduate Engineers are needed in all food and drink manufacturing. Machines need to be programmed and controlled to deliver the right weight and right mix at the right time. Engineers are also needed when new products and processes are developed, and they increasingly have to look at ways in which they can do things more cost effectively, more efficiently and more quickly. Graduates looking for an Engineering job in the Food and Drink Industry need to be multi-skilled, as mechanical, chemical and electrical graduates will use most of what they learnt on a regular basis in this industry. Engineers have to be experts on all the processes and machines in the factory, and these are often varied and complex. This a great industry for graduate engineers who will never tire of learning!
Procurement is about buying at the best price whilst also keeping a good relationship with your suppliers. You also have to make sure that you are buying at the best value rather than just the best price as food safety and quality is imperative. Procurement Graduates will be responsible for buying ingredients, machinery and packaging, so they must know their product inside and out. Keeping on top of the market trends is imperative, as is the ability to make quick decisions, and work under pressure. Graduates looking for a job in Procurement must be confident communicators, and not afraid to challenge where necessary.
Graduate Sales in the food industry is not about the hard sell, it is about understanding your customers needs and delivering on them. Sales professionals will manage a variety of accounts ensuring that they have what they need to support their customers, and that the products are promoted effectively. They will also play a key role in the growing the business through new sales generation. Graduate sales jobs can be extremely rewarding, and graduates must have excellent communication skills, a drive for results, and a passion for the industry. Successful graduates need to know as much about their customer’s business as they do their own brand.
Graduate marketing jobs in the food industry can be very challenging as the business that you work for will be constantly evolving. New products are being developed, and food and drinks companies are always looking at different ways in which to promote their foods to suit consumer trends. Marketing graduates can expect to deal with marketing strategy and implementation, and carry out sales presentations internally and externally, requiring creativity and excellent communication. Graduates wanting to get into a marketing job must have mathematical ability so that they can measure the effectiveness of campaigns, as well as devise them.