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The future is food

September is host to a glut of food & beverage industry expos and celebratory weeks so we thought what better time to talk about the future of careers in this varied and much misunderstood industry.


From Organic September to British Food Fortnight to the ‘most prestigious hospitality event in Europe’ held at ExCel and featuring:  Takeaway & Restaurant Innovation Expo, Restaurant Tech Live, Restaurant & Bar Design Show and Hotel Tech Live the UK’s F&B sector is an exciting place to be.


So this Q & Angel Wednesday we grilled our specialist consultants just for you…



1. So, how is the Food & Drink industry looking?


Things are looking bright. A recent FDF (Food & Drink Federation) report says that food and drink exports have seen record growth in the first half of 2017.


While news from Catering Insight suggests the the devaluation of the pound sterling has boosted tourism. And, these are just two examples.



2. What does that mean in terms of opportunities?


Well, FDF-commissioned report by professional services network Grant Thornton reckons the UK food & drink manufacturing industry will need around 140,000 new workers by 2024.


This is due in part to the sector’s ageing workforce retiring.



3. But aren’t most opportunities low-skilled ?


Well, there are lot of misconceptions about the hospitality and F&B sectors. Less than 9% of roles in F&B manufacturing are low-skilled.


In fact the report just mentioned featured several interviewees who said that increased automation – those pesky robots we keep hearing about – has lowered the need for low-skilled workers even further.



4.  So, robots are good for F&B jobs?


Well, the optimistic view is that the rise of automation is providing opportunities to upskill workers. And, Sodexo – the food services and facilities management giant – recently reported on five future workplace trends. It said:


[Robots] will create more than two million jobs in the next eight years and will in fact collaborate with people on uniquely human jobs.



5.  So it’s about changing industry perceptions?


Yes, the FDF’s Taste Success – A Future in Food campaign, for example, sets out to do just that by engaging 14-19 year olds and making the industry a career of choice.



6. How are things shaping up then?


Well, we’ve just mentioned the tech side of things. There are opportunities within the manufacturing end of production to get involved in what the FDF describes as the “cutting edge of science, technology and engineering”


On the other hand there is a real move to emphasise a commitment to ethics, health and more natural methods of food production and cooking.



7. Tell us about a key food trend the industry is keen to harness


Well, top of the trends right now is plant-based eating. We talked about this in detail over on our Healthy Catering post. Recently the UK’s leading contract caterer Compass Group UK teamed up with Humane Society International (HSI) to create a range of plant-based recipes.


Part of the HSI’s new Forward Food programme which aims to reduce meat purchases by a fifth over two years. While Compass is creating a range of vegan and vegetarian dishes it calls Root Kitchen.



8. Any other trends we should know about?


A recent study commissioned by Co-op found there’s been a 54% decrease in home cooking over the last 30 years.


The result being that younger people in particular are eating out more frequently but on a more casual basis. A Digital Blonde study on family dining found that over a quarter of UK families eat out a few times a month. This has seen a move towards more affordable, family-friendly fayre. While new app Tabled is aimed at international students wanting to eat well and meet others.



9. So, where can people expect to work – location-wise?


Another great thing about the food & drink catering and manufacturing sectors is they offer opportunities nationwide.


The manufacturing sector has both local and national significance too. The UK’s biggest export markets are the US, France and Ireland. But the industry is keen to also play its part in their local communities by supporting key initiatives.



10. Any last points?


A career index survey by Hotel Group Best Western recently reported that a third of UK parents would actively discourage their kids from a career in hospitality. The reason is often cited as poor wages. But as Great Western’s Managing Director says:


Opportunities [within the sector] are based on hard work and aptitude, not grades…”.


The F&B sectors can offer people a world of possibility and real opportunities to work their way up.


Think F&B could be for you? Have a chat with one of our specialist agents and get the real lowdown on what a future in this varied and vital industry could have in store for you.


Now over to you:


Want to ask about your particular career issues? If you’ve got any burning questions we’d love to hear from you!


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