Explore the sector
Agri-food is worth £109 billion to the UK economy and accounts for 14% of national employment.
The core elements of this sub-sector are agriculture (or primary production) and the subsequent processing, wholesale and retail activities associated with the food and drink that is produced.
There are numerous different roles available, ranging from animal nutritionist to biochemical engineer, food quality control analyst or supply chain manager.
This is a rapidly changing industry, and exports in Northern Ireland, a key player in the agri-food sector, have chosen the following areas as important for the sector to focus on in the future.
- Innovative process and packaging
- Enhancing consumer knowledge
- Emphasis on organic produce
- Increasing populations
A recent report, Leading Food 4.0, publishing by the National Centre for Universities and Business, explains that in Food 4.0, "nine billion people around the world must be fed safely, sustainably, affordably and securely".
It anticipates that the "Food 4.0 revolution is likely to be knowledge-intensive, collaborative and integrative. It may be built on nanotechnologies, big data, genomics and communications technologies. Or, it may be the product of renewables, ecological policies, better consumer education and environmental literacy. In all likelihool, it will be birthed by all of these".
The good news is that all of this vital development will require scientists and researchers at every stage.
Find out more:
The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink
News items and information on relevant training opportunities
New Food Magazine
News and industry information for the world's food and beverage industries
The Institute of Food Science and Technology
Information about LaunchPad events and food-related placements
Typical employers in this sub-sector include:
Food manufacturing and processing companies
Food Manufacture produce a comprehensive directory of the UK's leading food manufacturers and processers.
Supermarkets and other food retailers
Food retailers fall into a number of subcategories:
- Supermarkets, e.g. ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury's
- Discounters, e.g. Aldi, Lidl
- Other retailers including newsagents, off-licenses, butchers, bakeries and specialist retailers
Farms and agricultural contractors
The National Farmers Union website produces and job vacancy database, and a directory of relevant organisations.
Various Government departments and bodies focus on different areas of the agri-food industry:
Research institutions and organisations
Agri-food is a fast-paced industry facing a range of environmental and consumer-related issues that require innovative research solutions.
- Viewing the relevant agri-food vacancies on Jobs.ac.uk will give you an idea of the various research organisations and departments
- ADAS is the UK's largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice
Visit Tasty Careers for a details list of job descriptions, both graduate and non-graduate, across the industry.
There are also several relevant job profiles in the Environmental and Agriculture sector on the Prospects website, including agricultural consultant, animal nutritionist, plant breeder/geneticist, soil scientist and food technologist.
Sainsbury's have produced a useful video, 'From cow to customer', the explains the different stages involved in new product development – in this case a cheesecake.