Food Technology Career, Job Prospects, Scope In India & Abroad
If you are one of those people who are constantly curious and always on the lookout for news and information about the trends, hypes, and new discoveries in the food industry, then this article might be of interest to you. Furthermore, if food science and technology is of any interest to you, then you are in the right place.
Recently, you might have noticed the significant rise in the field of Applied Biological Sciences. In fact, many individuals have become more interested in this field due to its dynamic and interesting nature and of course its direct implications to a human being’s life. And if you are observant enough, you’ll notice that the buzz about this topic has become more frequent – you get to read it on the news, on the Internet, and even in social media platforms. This alone is a sign that there is something good going on.
Most of us would think of Biomedical Science when one talks about Applied Biological Sciences. This is normal because it is one of the most popular branches. However, tailing it is the Food Science and Agriculture, which has also been gaining a lot of attention recently. This branch though is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, and thus, requires a comprehensive discussion. This is what this `article aims to do – provide you with an overview of the Food Science and Technology, where the world of Sciences meets the world of food.
Food Science Defined
First and foremost, let us discuss and try to explain what food science is. To give you a glimpse of what it is about, allow us to define it in a way that is easy to understand and uncomplicated. Food science is another area in applied sciences that involves the basics of biochemistry, chemical engineering, and physical sciences in order to be able to understand the biological, chemical, and physical nature of food. To make it even simpler to comprehend, food science (or some call it food science and technology) is the study involving the manufacturing, processing, treatment, preservation, and distribution of food.
Like every other field in applied science, the main objective of food science ti to be able to understand the principles and the processes involved in food, from the manufacturing up until the distribution. Understanding these processes will allow the team to come up with steps, suggestions, and other processes that would improve the food quality for the consumers – the general public. Therefore, the next time you see a food item while doing your grocery, just put in mind that it has undergone scrutiny from a food scientist, food technologist, or food engineer or all of the above. This is to help ensure that what you are feeding your body is not toxic and poisonous.
Food Science, Food Technology, and Food Engineering
A lot of people, especially those who are not familiar with this field, get confused with terminologies and the scopes covered in food science, food technology, and food engineering. Truth be told, these three are overlapping; however, there are few subtle differences. We will not be explaining each in detail but allow us to illustrate the three the best we can, so you will have a picture. The following have been adopted form research gate.
- Food Technology: Talks about how one can use fire to cook food
- Food Science: Discuss the effects of burning wood. That is, it can produce heat, water, and carbon dioxide. To add further, it also explains how heat denatures the proteins in food.
- Food Engineering: This explains why building a fireplace and chimney can make cooking easier without having to fill the room with smoke.
Hopefully, the illustrations above would make it a bit clearer. But for the purpose of this article, let us all take the three as one and use Food Science & Technology moving forward.
The Need for Food Science & Technology
One fact cannot be denied: All forms of life need food to survive. It is a basic necessity, especially for human beings, just like clothes, shelter, education, and healthcare.
If you take a look at it, the majority of the food items are biological in nature. However, the processes involved after, including harvesting, processing, distribution, storage, and preparation, are complex. It requires someone to have a broad-based knowledge and training in order to understand the entire process and to be able to solve problems.
The person responsible for making our food safe and nutritious are called food scientists. They are also the ones responsible for coming up with innovative packaging. In other words, food scientists are the ones doing the dirty job so we can maximize our food resources and minimize waste of resources.
Because of the advent of technology, and of course, the existence of food scientists, the evolution of the food system worldwide has been tremendous. These and so much more are thanks to food science and technology. In fact, because of this field of applied sciences, our processed food items have become healthier to consume and move conveniently too for everyone!
Demand for Food Science and Technology Professionals
Although Food Science is relatively a new discipline, its popularity is growing as the day goes by. Two factors that contribute to this is the rapid urbanization and lifestyle changes that are happening across the globe. Food Science is multidisciplinary in nature; it’s the same with Pharmacy, Biomedical Science, or even Translational Science.
We already know that Food Science is involved with chemistry (inorganic, organic, and physical), microbiology, biochemistry, chemical, nutrition, and process engineering. Thus, the holy grail of this branch of food science is understanding biochemistry and chemistry of each of the food components, including carbohydrate, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Therefore, it is just but understandable that only highly qualified and trained Food Scientists get into the industry.
One thing that might have contributed to this is the fact that the advancements in technology have an effect on our daily life, making us busier than we ever have. Thus, the demand too easy-to-prepare and ready-to-eat drinks and meals have also increased as well. These drink and meals should be high quality, partnered with safety and nutrition value.
As a result, there is once again a need for advancements and developments in technology worldwide. Thus, food science and food technology go hand in hand.
Requirements for a Career in the Food Industry
So, now, that we have the overview of Food Science and Technology settled. It is now time that we tackle what it takes for someone to get into the Food Industry. What are the needed education and training?
Well, in a nutshell, you need to have a background in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (PCB) combination and Mathematics in your 10+2. When talking about it in the bachelor’s degree level, one should get a three-year or four-year degree courses in the fields of Food Science or Food Technology, Food Science and Technology, or Food Science and Agriculture, depending on what’s available on the school you are choosing.
If none of these courses are available at where you are studying or plan to study, then you can choose from these alternative courses: Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Chemical/Process Engineering, Organic Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nutrition, etc.
On the other hand, if you are looking to have a career in QC and QA or R&D, you need to have a higher degree, maybe a master’s degree or a Ph.D. Doing this will give you more advantage and an edge, especially when you decide to pursue a higher degree from a school abroad. On the other hand, if you are leaning toward a career in sales and marketing roles, such as product or brand management, then getting an MBA might help you achieve just that.
Lastly, if you are planning on a career as a Nutritionist or Dietician, there’s good news for you. You might not always need to get a higher degree after you achieve a bachelor’s degree. There are other options you can do, like getting certificates or PG Diploma courses that are in the fields of Nutrition or Dietetics.
The following are some of the top universities and colleges in India to study Food Science & Food technology:
- Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI)
- National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM)
- Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT)
- National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI)
- Food and Drug Toxicology Research Centre (FDTRC)
- National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)
- Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR)
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
- Department of Food Science and Technology, Pondicherry University
- International Life Sciences Institute – India (ILSI)
- IISER – Pune
Best Food Tech Degree Colleges in The USA
- Cornell University
- The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
- Texas A&M University
- UC Davis
- University of Florida
Best Food Tech Colleges in Other countries
- University College Dublin
- University College Cork
- Dublin Institute of Technology
- University of Copenhagen
- Denmark Technical University
Salary Structures in the Food Industry in India
Now, here is the part that we have all been wanting to get a sneak peek of. Of course, we want to know the salary structures in the food industry, at least in India. So allow us to take you through a short journey to the salary structures.
For starters, a Food Technologist or sometimes called food scientist can earn an average between INR 20,000 and 25,000 per month in India. If you stay in the field for at least five years, you can earn between INR 500,000 and 740,000 annually. With more years of experience, at least 10 years of it at least, you can very much expect an annual salary of between INR 900,000 and 1,180,000.
If you are planning a career in the manufacturing industry, here’s the salary structure. It is approximately equivalent to those who decide to be involved in the R&D or QC/QA function. If you’re someone you are a travel enthusiast, then Food Inspector role is the best one for you. Next, if academic roles are your interest, then you should know that the pay will depend on the University pay scales.
There will be extra incentives for those in the Sales & Marketing field. Without the incentives in mind, the salary levels are usually 20% to25% higher than those in the R&D and QC/QA field.
Lastly, for the nutritionists and dieticians, the average annual wage is INR 210,000 for starters while Nutrition Managers can earn up to an average of up to INR 750,000 per year. As a nutritionist or diet counselor, you can also do freelancing, either on the side or as your main source of income.
Product & Brand Management in the Food Industry
In India, the food industry is huge, with every single role being important. For instance, R&D and QC/QA professionals are the ones responsible for making the food nutritious and safe for all of us. But, to be totally honest, Product Management and Brand Management are arguably two of the most sought-for and in-demand functions from the industry’s point of view.
To give you a picture, let us remember how Cadbury revived its image after the worm incident in Dairy Milk. Also, just last year, Nestle exerted all possible efforts to revive the Maggi. These are where product and brand management functions are most in need. A lot of strategies is very much needed as the competition is fierce.
If you are a foodie, into challenges, has a thing for strategy making has a whole lot of creative juices, and of course wants to be wealthy, then landing a job in these Food Industry roles should be your goal.
The scope of Food Industry in India
Finally, we can now talk about the scope of the food industry in India. At present, it is currently valued at USD $39.71 billion. This can reach USD $65.4 billion by the end of the year as the Govt. of India and IBEF stated in its reports.
A DIPP report said that the Indian Food Processing sector has about USD $6.7 billion as FDI between the years 2000 (April) and 2015 (December). The investments are poised to reach the value of USD $33 million in the next 10 years.
To add to this investment factor, another thing to consider is the opportunity factor. This is based on the data from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. To add, it reports that 42% of the Indian Food Processing Industry is still unorganized (D&B). Meaning to say, opportunities are up for grabs for prospective entrepreneurs.
All in all, the signs are very promising for the future within the food industry in India.
Well, if you still aren’t convinced, then the following key points might change your mind. These are based on IBEF and MakeInIndia websites:
- The country ranked 6th in the World in terms of agricultural product exports in the year 2013
- India lands 2nd in terms of having the largest arable land in the world
- The country possesses 20 agroclimatic regions; it has all 15 possible major climates, and it has 46 of the overall 60 possible soil types worldwide
- The food processing sector contributed INR 845.22 billion to the GDP in 2012-2013
- Food Processing Industry also has the major employment intensive sectors in the country
- Food constitutes 38.5% and 48.6% of the total household consumption expenditure in 2011-2012
- The growing population is one huge factor in the increase in India’s overall food consumption
- One-third of the population will be living in urban areas by 2020, resulting in an increase in branded, packaged, and ready-to-eat or ready-to-drink items
- Food Processing has been recognized as a priority sector
- Services of pre-conditioning, pre-cooling, ripening, waxing, retail packing, labeling of fruits and vegetables have been exempted from Service Tax
- The food processing sector has a lot of exemptions and rebates are available. These include transportation costs, taxes, customs duty, and central excise duty
- Various investment opportunities are available
- 100% FDI is permitted in the automatic route for most food products
- Many foreign players worldwide are interested to invest in the Indian Food Processing sector
- There is demand for Food Tech Startups
To sum it all up, if you are a foodie and totally interested in science and maybe about technology, then you must consider and include in your goals a career in Food Science and Technology.
The Food and Beverage industry in the country has been consistently rising and increasing and is fast-becoming of the top ones. Plus, it might not end anytime soon as we all know that all human beings and even all creature with life need to eat and drink in order to survive.
In other words, you likely will land a good-paying job in the food industry as long as you have the required education and training, whether here or abroad. The education and training in the food industry are very crucial to your career. Plus, you should also consider taking up further studies or short-term courses wherein you can earn certificates and merits. All these can be used on your application, depending on what role you are planning to pursue.
The bottom line here is that Food Science and Technology is here to stay, not only in India but anywhere around the world. It is one of the applied sciences that becomes even more in demand as the time goes by. If you land a career in this industry, you are a vital member of making sure that the food that people consume not only in your country but worldwide is safe and has the best nutrients one can get in a processed food and similar items.
So, we hope this article sheds more light not only about food science and technology but also on its importance and its function in the country and the lives of millions of individuals’ health.