#DitchTheDesk: What is Food Engineering?

Two women in lab coats and hair nets observing the goings-on behind the camera

Do you dream of breaking free from the ordinary and embracing a wilder side?

Join the #DitchTheDesk movement and embark on a new adventure with a fulfilling career in agri-food.

Are you someone who has a passion for food production? Interested in delivering food to the masses in an affordable and environmentally friendly fashion? Then look no further!

What is Food Engineering?

Imagine a world where your daily work contributes to ensuring every dinner table has safe, sustainable and nutritious meals.

A food engineer is the mastermind behind the cutting-edge technology, machinery and methods for processing food.

This involves monitoring the farm-to-fork process, implementing changes to keep ahead of the competition through research, product testing or design. A food engineer must communicate with the different cogs within the production process: nutritionists, scientists and other food engineers to keep ahead of new technologies.

The Importance

  • Consumer satisfaction- Expectations surrounding the availability of cheap and healthy food has increased the demand for food engineers
  • Sustainability- As Earth’s population grows ever larger, the need for food continues to increase. It is up to food engineers to navigate a path to Net Zero and mitigate mounting emissions pressures within agriculture.
  • Cost-effectiveness- Acting in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals– such as no poverty and zero hunger. Food engineers must work to reduce the costs of production to alleviate consumer stress
  • Quality- nutritious food improves our health and well-being. A better quality means less food is consumed, reducing the strain on farmers and the healthcare industry.

The Pathway

  • Degree in food engineering or similar
  • Associated Masters: Food Processing, Food Technology, Food Manufacturing and Technology and Food Science

The Skills Required

  • Commercial awareness – to stay competitive within this fast-paced industry, businesses need to know their target market to stay ahead of the curve; food engineers must, therefore, be up to date with the wants and needs of consumers.
  • Problem-solving- Food engineers must be able to handle the unexpected, tackling situations regarding the processing, manufacturing or the distribution of the produce to keep costs low and deliveries on time.
  • Engineering- Experience and skills in design will help devise specific tools to create a particular product or provide greater efficiency to a production line.
  • Analytical- Can interpret data to extrapolate where targets are being missed and take the appropriate actions to implement a change.
  • Communication- a food engineer needs to be able to communicate with the people around them- discussing the latest advancements with their peers, relaying changes to their team and relaying reports to superiors.
  • Knowledge of food safety and related regulations- This role’s essential component is understanding the risks involved and how to alleviate them.