The food industry must reach out to young people still considering their educational and career options
Last month I came across a podcast called My Food Job Rocks! hosted by Adam Yee, a food scientist and product developer based in Phoenix, Ariz. Beyond the brilliant title, what caught my attention was the fact that Yee was interviewing Ana and Drew Stevens, owners of Oshawa, Ont.-based Pepper North.
As well as discussing the company’s line of artisan hot pepper sauces and condiments, the entrepreneurs talked passionately about growing their award-winning hot peppers, developing recipes and designing packaging. Yee asked them about everything from the challenges of commercializing recipes, to getting space on retail shelves. It was a refreshing change to hear food production discussed in such a positive light, especially among three young professionals working in the industry.
Sponsored by Foodgrads and developed to “inform people about cool jobs in the food industry,” Yee calls My Food Job Rocks! “a mentor session every week.” At press time he had completed 94 episodes, with guests from a wide range of food and beverage-related sectors and jobs. His listeners are generally young professionals looking for advice, or who may still be looking for their career path within the food business. “Being a product developer is a dream job in a sense. I love it, and that’s why the podcast exists,” says Yee, who specializes in products like meal replacement bars and baked goods. “That’s why I think it’s also really important to do a long-form interview, for the audience and for myself.”
Reaching a younger generation still considering their educational and career options is crucial for the food industry. If Canadian businesses want to continue to grow, or to explore the global opportunities available to our internationally respected food and beverage industry, we will need skilled, engaged, forward-looking people in all areas of the industry, from farm to plate (for more on employment in the food industry, see pg. 28 for part 3 of our series on the labour market).
I know my food job rocks – how will you show the future generation how cool your food job is?