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Future of food whets appetites for careers

THE vast range of careers available in the food industry has been showcased in Grimsby. 

Future of food whets appetites for careers

The Future of Food event saw live demonstrations, masterclasses and guest speakers, with a strong emphasis on the seafood cluster as Seafish, the industry authority, worked alongside host Grimsby Institute.

First on the bill was Amanda Perry, food industry entrepreneur. 

“There has never been a better time than now to start your own food business,” she said. “The barrier to entry is so low with the resource of the internet. Street food is a massive industry, very easy to get in to with low cost start-up equipment you can take to events and test ideas out. There’s consultancy too once you get experience. That is a massively growing market, people want to pay for specific experience.”  

She told how when considering a career in the food industry it is not just about the food, but thinking about your skills, expertise and passion, and how you can “apply it and bring something exciting and different to the food industry”. 

Amanda started her first business, Fancie, in 2007, “born from a love of making cakes,” growing it to a £1 million turnover operation “no mean feat when selling cup cakes” across seven shops, with 73 staff, before selling up in 2014. Early in 2015 she “took the bits I really enjoyed and looked at ways I could adapt with technology” sending baking kits out to subscribers. In the process of selling that, she now works with food businesses to help on platforms such as Facebook, Google and Instagram, “leveraging what the internet offers for traditional products”. 

“When I started thinking about careers in the food industry, you would perhaps think about chefs, perhaps a food technician, product development,” she said. “These are traditional jobs in the food industry, but that’s not just how it is any more. There are a whole lot of other jobs, exciting jobs, and open to all.

“Love Food has 7.5 million followers and is a marketing company, food buying is an incredible job; getting to go around all the producers to look what they are developing. Then there are food stylists, health and wellness coaches developing recipes to bring health benefits to people. 

“Molecular gastronomists – a lot of the chefs are starting to use as they do fancy gels; mycologists who study mushrooms, a real niche role. Any skill you have can be applied to the food industry, even if you don’t consider it to be a traditional role.”

Karen Galloway, who has experience in alcohol, chocolate and cheese before becoming a familiar figure in the Grimsby seafood cluster with Seafish, looked at emerging proteins including insects, meat from plants and diet personalisation from a medical perspective, while updating on hydroponic developments for produce, including Growing Underground, a subterranean project in London where food is grown on racks stacked four high.

“Food is changing really fast, it is one of the fastest moving industries in the world and there are massive opportunities out there,” she said. “Fifteen years ago I came into seafood, and it captivated me. It is one of the most fascinating parts of the industry from my perspective in marketing and communications, and this area has a lot to offer in terms of seafood. 

“Trade makes it international, connected, social, and how it gets to us, from supermarket or restaurant, the trade is dynamic. It is an industry that is fairly discreet and unique, it means we can maintain very, very strong networks.”

Explaining how the freezer and ready meal have brought giant leaps, from the late Fifties and early Sixties, she said: “If the way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than the last 5,000, what does that say for the next 50? The future of the industry needs more breakthrough thinking, it is all about technology, it is a global farm.”

While Mrs Galloway may have recently left a full-time role in the seafood industry, Debbie Cook has just started as director of corporate communications with Seafish.

“I only joined three months ago and before that I had never done anything involved with seafood before,” the former Lincolnshire County Council head of democracy and communications said, having spent the last six years as chief executive of a national health charity and the previous 22 in local authorities. “When I applied I thought it would be interesting and diverse, but I did not realise how interesting. 

“We support industry from catch to plate. From advice and guidance around gear technology and regulations, and at the other end of the scale we work on promoting consumption of seafood. It is a hugely varied and agile industry.  The number of stakeholders from fishermen to processors to buyers is so diverse.

“Issues range from Brexit impact to consumption. We all know the message about five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but we don’t all know we should be having two portions of fish a week, and that’s really important for health. There are so many opportunities in the seafood industry.”

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