The food and beverage industry in New Zealand generates around $25 billion a year – about two thirds of our export earnings – and involves more than 20% of our workforce. At the moment, much of this export income comes from relatively unprocessed foods.
Coming up with innovative and creative ways to manufacture higher-value products from our milk, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables improves our export income and creates more jobs. We can only do this if we have more skilled technologists, engineers and scientists in the food industry.
Working in the food industry gives you the opportunity to:
- Develop new food and drink products
- See what you've created on sale in the supermarket
- Travel and work overseas
- Enjoy a mix of office, laboratory and factory work
- Work in teams and meet lots of different people
- Find creative solutions to challenging problems
- Gain easily transferable skills, opening up future career options
There is a world-wide shortage of people with technology, engineering and science qualifications that are relevant to the food industry, so there are lots of employment opportunities, both in New Zealand and overseas.
Key roles in the food industry include:
- Food technologists and scientists create innovative new food and drink products, and develop more efficient ways to manufacture them. They may also design or improve packaging and processing systems.
- Process engineers design and develop efficient processes for manufacturing food and drink products.
- Quality assurance officers and microbiologists use their knowledge of microscopic organisms such as bacteria and fungi to make sure food is manufactured safely and to a high standard.
The main employers the in food industry include:
- Large food companies, such as Fonterra and Heinz Wattie’s
- Smaller companies such as Hubbards, Barkers and the Kiwi Ice Cream Company
- Universities and government-funded institutions such as Plant & Food Research employ a small number of food scientists
Key tertiary qualifications include:
- Bachelor of Food Technology in Food Product Development or Food Process Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Food Science
- Bachelor of Engineering, specialising in Chemical or Process Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology or Molecular Biology
Required and recommended school subjects:
- Chemistry (required for Food Technology, Engineering pathways)
- Calculus (required for Food Technology, Engineering pathways)
- Physics (required for Food Technology, Engineering pathways)
- Statistics and Modelling
- Technology subjects
New Zealand Institute of Food Science & Technology (NZIFST)