A Career in Food Science: Understanding the Global Opportunities

Food has always been central to our lives. But today, in times of Instagram, food has taken on a whole new meaning.  The rise in food trends reveals how mindful we’ve become of the food we eat, the quality, nutrition, source, safety, and cost.
It’s a good time to think about a career in food science – a branch of study that works towards the betterment of the food industry and the nutritional needs of people.

Here’s what we’ll cover today

  • The basics
  • What a degree in food science offers
  • Top ten universities to study food science
  • Career roles  and the future

What is food science?

There is no love sincerer than the love of food – George Bernard Shaw.

Food science is a multi-disciplinary field that involves biochemistry, microbiology, epidemiology, nutrition, molecular biology, and engineering to provide scientific knowledge of food systems. The study of food science encompasses the biological, physical, and chemical make-up of food. Food technology is the application of food science to the selection, preservation, processing, packaging, distribution, and usage of food.

To make it more concise, every packed food item or beverage that we buy in a store is a creation of a food scientist. A food scientist works on multiple levels before the product reaches the market; a food scientist works to select the perfect raw materials for the product to the nutrition that the food can provide. The few most common innovative creations by food scientists are as follows:

  • Frozen foods
  • Microwave meals
  • Pasteurized milk
  • Snacks and soft drinks
  • Biodegradable packaging
  • Super crops
  • Canned foods
  • Nutritious new foods
  • More easily prepared traditional foods
  • Variety in our diets

What does the course offer?

A degree in food science will teach the student about reactions and changes that take place at various levels of food processing and the microbial aspect of the food, which results in better shelf life of the food. The course makes the student learn about new processing methods, preservation, and packaging technology. Food science is offered either as an engineering degree or a BSc degree in most of the universities with a duration of three or four years. Students can even combine food science with other subjects like agriculture, food security, nutrition, technology for more focused learning. Sustained food security for all, reduced food losses, safe food security at the grass-roots level are important goals which the food science sector tries to achieve.  Few important contents that are part of the food science curriculum are as follows :

  • Food law
  • Sensory analysis
  • Packing, processing, and product development
  • Food economics
  • Food processing operations
  • Food Additives
  • Food analytical techniques
  • Food microbiology
  • Chemistry of food
  • Physiology for nutrition
  • Public health
  • Plant science
  • Applied Food Biotechnology
Top 10 universities to study food science

Here are the top 10 universities globally to study food science as listedby theARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities), Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Serial No. University Country
1 Jiangnan University China
2 China Agricultural University China
3 Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
4 South China University of Technology China
5 Zhejiang University China
6 Nanjing Agricultural University China
7 University of Massachusetts Amherst United States
8 University of Campinas Brazil
9 Nanchang University China
10 University of Sao Paulo Brazil

There are universities that offer an integrated master’s program in food science (MSci), this course lasts for four years and will award a master’s degree after completion. Ares of postgraduate study includes food safety, environmental management, biomedical science and food quality management. Many universities also offer PhD food science programs with the aim of extensive research in food and nutrition.

What do food science graduates do?

According to the survey by Plunkett Research, the global food and agricultural industry totalled about $8.7trillion, which is about 10 % of the world’s GPD. In accordance with the data provided by the World Trade Organization, global food exports have reached greater heights totalling $1.47 trillion in the year 2017 alone. The revenue generated in the food market amounts to $8,049,240m in 2021, and this is expected to grow annually by 3.14%. All these data showus how vital the food sector is for the survival of people on earth.
There is a misconception that studying food science can only get you the job of a chef. The world for the food science graduate is much beyond cooking or consuming it. A food science degree can offer a career in several different fields like manufacturing, food research laboratories, processing companies, quality control, engineering and health care. Let us take a close look at the career option that will be available after graduating in food technology:

  • Food technologist
  • Naturopath
  • Nutritional therapist
  • Production manager
  • Organic chemist
  • Food scientist
  • Research scientist
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Business Development & Marketing analysis
  • Regulatory affairs officer
  • Technical brewer
  • Lab technician
  • Biochemist
  • Quality controller
  • Food inspector
Destination Percentage
Employed 41.4
Further study 51.4
Working and studying 3.4
Unemployed 1.5
Other 2.3

Graduate destinations for food science

Type of work Percentage
Engineering and building 26.5
Technicians and other professionals 15.4
Marketing, PR and sales 12.1
Retail, catering and bar staff 7.8
Other 38.1

Types of work entered in the UK

The  Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that a food science graduate’s most favourable and preferred sector to work is in the engineering and building sector in the UK. The next most preferred career option is in the quality assurance and management sector.

A helping hand; Robotics

Automation and robotics are terms that are not new to food science; automation and robotics in the food industry are growing with more applications as currently robots are being used in this industry like never before. Since the last couple of years, robots have integrated with the food science industry to prepare ingredients, cooking methods, pack food, and assess the quality of the food. The Association of Packing and Processing technologies survey found that almost 94% of the food packing works in the US are operated using robots, which is a $31.5 million market. With the development of big data and artificial intelligence, robotics has become inevitable in the food industry as it greatly helps in the manufacturing process. So,  robotics and automation in the food industry is definitely a field to watch out for as this field will come up with some really cool innovations that will make everyday eating habits much better and nutritious.

With the constant increase in population and high demand for food items, the future of food science and technology looks bright. You may even be the next scientist to create a food item that no longer makes us hungry for a day or two, and the world can be your oyster if you study food science.

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Global Employability


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