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My son recently graduated with a degree in Marketing and initiated his job search. Without a clear path, he considered a variety of industries that were familiar to him – gaming, social media marketing firms and a few other avenues. Based on my experience and what I know about this industry, I tried to push him toward food but honestly, living in the Washington DC area, we don’t have many food producers. He found a job that touches on the food industry but only on the periphery. Maybe someday he’ll move more in that direction but not yet. The truth is that the food industry is just not “sexy.”

That’s something I’ve known for years, and yet, we do a lousy job of promoting our industry as an exceptional career path for young people. My son might roll his eyes at the word “exceptional,” but it’s true.

Let’s start with the economics of the industry. The US packaged food industry was valued at $996.6B in 2020 and projected to grow 4.1% compounded annually for the next seven years. While the pandemic most likely affected that projection, with inflation, the industry is undoubtedly over $1T now. It will only continue growing to keep up with the growing US population and evolving consumer demands for new products. As we say in the industry, “we gotta eat.

How do food companies keep up with this ever-growing demand? Yes, they have automated production quite a bit. However, they still need people to work in various functions including product development, marketing, quality control, accounting, engineering, maintenance… yes, everywhere. When demand for labor is strong, what happens to pay? It goes up no matter what segment of the food industry. And while I know that all industries are competing for this same young workforce, which of these generate over $1T in sales revenue each year and continue growing? Can you say job security?

But it’s also more than just a job. Think about the products we’re consuming today that weren’t around just a few short years ago —plant-based proteins, cold-brewed drinks, superfood powders, cannabis-infused soft drinks, cauliflower-based pizzas, and etc. Think about being part of the next big trend that helps us feed a hungry world and does so sustainably, safely and contributes to our well-being while also being delicious.

And it’s not just the food manufacturers we’re talking about here. What about the equipment manufacturers that sell to these same food companies? According to the FPSA Food and Beverage Processing Equipment Market Study, the equipment market alone will reach $76B by 2026. What type of jobs do these companies offer? The same as those listed above. There are needs across the board. In short, it’s an excellent time to be looking for work in the food industry.

The Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) has identified this as one of the industry's top concerns and is actively working to link young people to potential employers. One way we do that is to encourage student membership in FPSA. For a nominal fee, student members receive access to our popular mentor circle program, mock interviews, complimentary registration for our trade show Process Expo, free use of the FPSA Job Board, and many other benefits. In addition, FPSA is working on bringing our employers to you with face-to-face career fairs at prominent universities around the country, which we plan to launch this October in Chicago.