The largest retail category in the U.S. by far, the food and beverage industry is expected to reach global sales of $20 to $25 trillion by 2030. A portion of this growth is caused by ongoing changes in eating habits, which are a major factor driving a difference in the way food and beverage companies operate. Because of this, employers are realigning their recruitment strategies to ensure they’re as competitive as possible in the marketplace.
“Consumer demand continues to pressure food and beverage companies to innovate new products that trend toward organic, non-GMO, low sugar, low carbohydrate and lower calorie,” notes Ryan Gilley, Aerotek strategic account executive. “The fresh, natural and organic product categories are growing especially quickly, with organic sales now topping $43 billion, 5 percent of total food sales.”
“This has mandated food and beverage companies to focus on research and development efforts, doubling down on successful products while re-inventing new products to meet consumer trends. Many companies are also expanding existing facilities to add production capacity for these new product types,” Gilley adds.
FDA policies also spur change
Similar trends have led the Food & Drug Administration to mandate labeling that shows ingredients and composition of all products. This is causing companies to re-evaluate what they are putting into the product, where they are sourcing it from, and how they can research and develop what they are now directed to share.
These changes have led to a re-assessment of what skillsets are required. “Although the majority of the skillsets have stayed the same, the demand has increased for technical skillsets within science and engineering,” says Gilley. “The FDA continues to increase regulations in the handling and distribution of products, which has created an increased need for higher qualified and more experienced light and heavy industrial skill sets.”
New products require new packaging and labeling plus changes in machinery and innovation within set-up and distribution, he adds, which has resulted in an increased need for manufacturing and packaging engineers.
Impact on staffing
Employers are increasingly demanding more prior experience in regulated environments. Also, the science and engineering employees are being asked to innovate and develop, as opposed to simply assure and control (quality assurance/quality control), which requires more experience. The traditional “general labor” population increasingly needs experience within regulated environments to stay compliant with increased FDA requirements. These developments have led to an increase in the average wages paid to food and beverage workers.
“We know that consumer trends will continue to evolve, and that food and beverage companies must constantly stay in front of the market,” says Gilley. “As such, there will continue to be an increased need for technical workers with experience in the industry.”
Gilley also points to some 2018 regulatory deadlines that may have an effect on industry jobs:
“Across the country, recruiting experienced talent within all disciplines will continue to be essential in meeting consumer demand for food and beverage products, and distributing them in an efficient and compliant manner,” Gilley concludes.
If you would like to learn more about staffing in the food and beverage industry, contact Aerotek now.