Have you ever wondered who comes up with the new flavours for crisps, fizzy drinks and other food products? Who makes Cherry Coke so darn tasty? Who makes Scampi Fries taste exactly like scampi? The answer is food technologists.
These clever people use their scientific knowledge and superhuman taste buds to develop recipes and formulae for new beverages and food products. They also adapt existing recipes to make them even tastier!
Food technologists may also focus their efforts on finding different ways to keep food fresh or converting raw ingredients into products that can be produced on a large scale.
Working in laboratories, food technologists combine different flavourings to produce product samples. They then taste them, test them, adapt them, taste them again, test them again, and tweak recipes until the flavours are spot on.
Food technologists don’t only focus on producing amazing flavours; they also work to make sure that products will have the right colour, shape and consistency when they are manufactured en masse.
Quality control is a major part of a food technologist’s job. In order to make sure that products are safe, edible and enjoyable for the consumer, food technologists must make sure that stringent quality control procedures are adhered to during the product development and production processes.
Food technologists must also take budget constraints into account. Consequently, a food technologist’s job will also involve liaising with external suppliers to secure cost-effective deals when purchasing chemicals, flavourings and raw ingredients.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level food technologists tend to earn between £20,000 and £25,000 per annum. Experienced food technologists, however, can earn anywhere between £30,000 and £45,000 a year.
Food technologists with managerial responsibilities can earn up to £62,000 and beyond.
Food technologists typically work five days a week,nine-to-five. However, extra evening and weekend work may be required from time to time. Some food technologists are required to work shifts during critical trial periods.
Food technologists may also be required to travel, both domestically and internationally, on a regular basis in order to meet suppliers.
The majority of companies require candidates to have a degree or HND in a relevant subject, such as nutrition, food science, food safety, food technology, chemistry, biotechnology or microbiology.
If you don’t have an applicable undergraduate degree, it may be advisable to complete a postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject.
Another way to boost your employability is to get work experience with a food manufacturing company. This will give you fantastic hands-on experience and will enable you to build up a network of useful contacts.
Training & progression
The majority of your training will be done whilst on the job under the supervision of senior food technologists. You will also have the opportunity to attend in-house training sessions from time to time.
Some companies may even sponsor you and support you through a postgraduate course that is accredited by the Institute of Food Science & Technology.
Once you have gained a decent amount of experience, you may step up into a senior food technologist position with team leading responsibilities.
Eventually, you may advance your technical knowledge even further and begin working as a project manager or product development manager.
Alternatively, you might decide to specialise in a particular area of the food production industry, such as research and development or quality management.