My son just completed his first day on the job, after graduating from a state college with a degree in Marketing. His job search was more difficult than he expected, thanks in large part to his internship in 2020 being cancelled due to the pandemic. Without that experience, he wasn’t quite sure in which direction to go with his degree. That was until he thought about something I always say. The food and beverage industry just isn’t sexy.
That’s not to say that I am down on a career in the food industry. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s a great industry to work for. In fact, it is one of the few industries we engage with every day. Even during economic downturns, or global pandemics for that matter, the food industry marches right on. As we say in the office, “We still have to eat”.
It’s not just that there is never ending demand for our products. Over the past 20+ years, the food industry has showed tremendous innovation in an effort to keep up with consumer expectations, evolving tastes, and improvements in food safety. Gluten-free? Plant based proteins? Reduced reliance on sodium, sugar, and preservatives? More sustainable packaging? Check, check, check and check. And the list goes on. In short, this is an exciting time to be working in the food industry.
As I told my son, over the past 20 years I have watched a large number of baby boomer colleagues retire, creating a challenge for these companies to find good, qualified replacements. As a result, salaries have risen as these companies try to attract younger people. I’m not just referring to food science majors, it’s across the board. Computer programmers, mechanical and electrical engineers, marketers, accountants, you name it. There is demand for young people in all of these areas. In an industry with greater than average stability, higher pay, and new opportunities.
If you haven’t yet considered a career in the food and beverage industry, think of this. In 2020, total retail and food services sales amounted to $6.2 trillion dollars. That is made up of companies of all shapes and sizes. On top of that, there is a whole industry of suppliers (equipment manufacturers, engineering firms, distributors, etc.), that support the food industry, creating an additional layer of employment opportunities just waiting for Gen Z applicants.
No, we’re still not sexy. But a career in the food industry is well worth considering as it helps you achieve the other goals you have in life.