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Manufacturing & Production careers

Food & Drink

Why get into food & drink production?

A lot of industries claim to be crucial, but the mere fact that everybody needs to eat and drink is evidence enough of how important this sector really is. Whether it’s canning, fish processing, bottling, industrial rendering, meat packing, or any other form of food and drink production, you will be producing something for public consumption.

Put simply, we’ve all got to eat and drink! The industry required to facilitate this absolutely gigantic task is suitably huge, with over 6,000 food and drink companies in the UK alone. Food and drink manufacturing is also the area of manufacturing that has maintained the most consistently stable levels of production over the last few years, and a graduate job in such a field is likely to be pretty stable too.

People are required for production, packaging and distribution. Production alone offers a huge variety of career paths across all of the main processing methods, i.e. one-off production, batch production, mass production and ‘just in time’ production (JIT). Whether you’re required to source the produce from farms, broker the deals, deliver the food to the factories, operate and maintain the facility, or provide quality control and testing assistance, there’s a lot of scope for career progression.

What types of food & drink production are there?

Bar your fresh fruit and veg, most of the food and drink you consume will go through some sort of production process. This process will alter depending on the size of the order and the type of product.

One-off production refers to instances where a client makes a bespoke order, requesting specific things that are unique to them. This is usually something reserved for highly-skilled individuals and may involve the production of something like a wedding cake.

Batch production is where a manufacturing company estimates the number of products that need to be made in the production run. For example, a bakery will aim to produce a certain amount of loaves each day, based on an expectation that they will sell a certain number.

For this, you need to predict levels of consumption and prepare for it. Guess wrong and you’ve got a lot of wasted food there, not to mention additional costs you could have done without.

Mass production obviously involves churning out huge numbers of the same product. These are huge companies that deliver goods to the big supermarkets and restaurants on a daily basis.

Just in time production involves the manufacturing of products once an order has been placed. An order is placed, providing a signal, and then the production process begins. This allows companies to only produce the products that are required. This saves on surplus waste and reduces production costs. Working in this area of manufacturing can be more intense and high-pressured though, due to time constraints.

If you wish to pursue a career in food and drink manufacturing, you could become a buyer, a process engineer, an operations manager, a factory operative, a food technologist, a taster or a beverage technician. Basically, you could take on any role that is integral to ensuring that quality food and drink is produced in order to feed and refresh the millions of mouths around the world. Sounds like a tasty career path to us!