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Top Skills and Qualifications Employers Look for in Food Industry Candidates

June 5, 2024
Lukas Vanterpool

Everyone loves food, and those that are passionate about it, find their place working in the food industry. The food industry is a vast and complex sector that employs a wide range of professionals, from chefs and cooks to food scientists and quality control specialists. Globally, the frozen food market specifically is projected to grow from USD 256.46 billion in 2021 to USD 385.04 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 5.98% during the 2021-2028 period. With the advancement of technology and changing consumer behaviour and trends, this could mean that there will be more opportunities for promising and ever-evolving careers in the frozen food industry.  


Why choose the frozen food sector? 

With the growing demand for convenience and longer shelf life, the frozen food sector has become a thriving industry and will likely continue to grow and develop. Various roles are available, and new ones are constantly being added, including food scientists and technologists who develop new frozen food products, engineers who design freezing and packaging equipment, supply chain and logistics professionals who ensure proper storage and transportation of frozen goods, quality control specialists who maintain product safety and consistency, and marketing and sales experts who promote and distribute frozen food products. Careers in the frozen food industry provide a chance to contribute to the development of nutritious and delicious frozen meals while addressing the evolving needs of consumers in a dynamic and expanding market. 


What qualifications can you get to work in the chilled food sector? 

When considering entering the food sector, you might want to consider the career paths of a food scientists and technologists. These professions are dedicated to the food sector by virtue of their education and training and they enjoy a special place in it due to their unique scientific knowledge and understanding of food.  


Food science and technology is the study of the various chemical and physical properties and components of food and how they respond to processing, preservation and storage. It’s the application of this knowledge in addition to that from other disciplines such as chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and engineering, that is needed in providing a wide variety of safe, appealing and affordable foods for sustenance and for pleasure. 


Universities offering courses in Food Science and Technology to work in the food sector 

There are many universities in the USA offering qualifications in food science and technology. These universities are recognized for their academics and qualified faculties.  


Cornell University 

Cornell University is one of the top universities for MS in food technology in USA. The course offers a broader, more generalized approach to food science education and covers a large range of topics within food science, including food chemistry, food engineering, nutrition and food marketing.  


Purdue University 

Purdue University offers a food science major that is an all-encompassing major centered on enriching and improving food through increased food safety, novel processing techniques, nutritional benefits, and food functionality. The research is conducted in four major areas within the food science discipline such as food chemistry, structure and function, foods for health, food safety and microbiology, and food processing.  


Texas A & M University 

Texas A&M University offers a food science and technology qualification that provides a strong knowledge base in the fundamental and applied aspects of food science. The course conducts appropriate coursework and independent cutting-edge research that addresses the current and emerging societal needs in the field.  


Illinois Institute of Technology 

The food technology programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology prepare students to be food safety experts in the private sector and at federal and state health agencies. The university provides a working knowledge of food microbiology, food packaging, food chemistry, food analysis, human nutrition, and food regulations. 


What Qualifications Can Enhance Candidate’s Chances of Being Employed In the Chilled Food Sector? 

With high competition in the industry, making sure you’re always developing your skill and knowledge in the industry will bring you to the top of any employer’s possible candidates list. There are various qualifications and certifications available that can enhance your knowledge, skills, and employability in the industry in the US. 


  • HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) Certification: This certification focuses on identifying potential hazards and implementing control measures to ensure food safety. It is widely recognized and is essential for individuals involved in food handling, processing, and production. 


  • ServSafe Certification: Offered by the National Restaurant Association, this certification emphasizes safe food handling practices, sanitation, and proper storage techniques. It is beneficial for individuals working in restaurants, catering, and other food service establishments. 


  • Certified Food Scientist (CFS): Offered by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), this certification is designed for professionals with a strong background in food science and technology. It recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their expertise in areas such as food safety, product development, and quality assurance. 


  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP): Offered by APICS (Association for Supply Chain Management), this certification is relevant for professionals involved in supply chain management in the chilled food sector. It covers areas such as procurement, production, inventory management, and logistics. 


These are just a few examples of certifications and qualifications available in the chilled food sector. The specific certifications required may vary based on job roles and industry segments within the chilled food industry and the state areas in which candidates work. It’s important to research and identify relevant certifications that align with your career goals and enhance your expertise in the specific area of the chilled food sector you wish to pursue. 


Top skills that employers look for in candidates specializing in the chilled food industry 


Culinary skills and knowledge: Employers in the food industry place a high value on culinary skills and knowledge. This includes a thorough understanding of cooking techniques, food safety and hygiene, nutrition, and food presentation.  


Food science and technology: The food industry is constantly evolving, with new trends and technologies emerging all the time. Employers look for candidates who have a strong understanding of food science and technology, including food processing and preservation, sensory evaluation, and quality control.  


Specific skills that are needed in the food science and technology field include: 

  • Food processing: This involves the transformation of raw ingredients into finished products through techniques such as cooking, baking, and preserving. Candidates with expertise in food processing are highly sought after by food manufacturers and processors. 
  • Sensory evaluation: The analysis of the taste, texture, and aroma of food products. Candidates with skills in sensory evaluation can help companies improve the quality and appeal of their products. 
  • Food safety and quality control: This involves the implementation of procedures and standards to ensure that food products are safe and of high quality. Candidates with knowledge of food safety regulations and quality control procedures are highly valued in the food industry. 
  • Food microbiology: The study of microorganisms that affect food safety and quality. Candidates with expertise in food microbiology can help companies identify and mitigate risks associated with microbial contamination. 
  • Food engineering: This involves the application of engineering principles to the design and development of food processing equipment and systems. Candidates with skills in food engineering can help companies optimize their production processes and reduce costs. 



When working in the food industry, candidates should posses the following communication skills: 

Communication skills: In the food industry, effective communication is essential. Candidates should be able to communicate clearly and professionally with customers, coworkers, and managers. They should be able to listen actively and respond appropriately to feedback and criticism.

Clear and concise verbal communication: This is important when communicating with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders. The ability to clearly convey ideas and information can help to avoid misunderstandings and errors in the workplace. 

Written communication: The ability to write clearly and concisely is important when preparing reports, memos, and other written communication. Effective written communication can help to ensure that information is conveyed accurately and efficiently. 


Multilingual skills: In the food industry, there is a growing need for multilingual communication skills, as companies are increasingly operating on a global scale. Candidates with proficiency in multiple languages are highly valued in the food industry. 


Presentation skills: The ability to deliver effective presentations is important as it can help to communicate ideas and information to a wide range of stakeholders. Candidates with strong presentation skills can help to engage and persuade their audience. 


Customer service skills: The food industry is all about providing a positive experience for customers. Candidates should be able to provide excellent customer service, with a friendly and professional demeanor.  


Problem-solving skill : In the food industry, problems can arise unexpectedly. As a food industry candidate, you should be able to identify problems quickly and develop effective solutions to address them. 



Behaviours that make food industry candidates stand out   

A lot of things can be taught in the food industry, but certain behaviours and character attributes form part of a person’s being. There are certain attributes that will make a candidate stand out among the rest and make them excel in the field. Employers should look out for these attributes when considering their next candidate. 


A candidate who gets things done – a strong work ethic 

In the fast-paced and demanding food industry, a strong work ethic is essential. Employers should hire candidates who demonstrate a dedicated and diligent approach to their work, exhibit a willingness to put in the necessary effort, and take pride in delivering results. These candidates are also the ones most likely to be open to constructive criticism and who will always be looking for continuous self-development and growth. 


A candidate you can trust – reliability and dependability 

When handing someone responsibility, you should be able to trust that they will get the job done. Employers in the food industry need reliable and dependable individuals who can consistently meet work schedules, show up on time, and fulfill their responsibilities. This is important to maintain smooth operations and working environments as well as ensure customer satisfaction. 


Candidates who can collaborate – a team player 

The food industry relies heavily on teamwork and collaboration. It’s crucial to be able to work well with others, with a focus on achieving common goals and objectives. Teamwork and collaboration are essential in the food industry to ensure efficient and effective production and distribution of safe, high-quality food products. Effective teamwork and collaboration ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and in a timely manner.   


Candidates who don’t miss anything – attention to detail  

Attention to detail is critical in the food industry, where small mistakes can have significant consequences. Candidates should be detail-oriented, with a focus on accuracy and precision in all aspects of their work.  


Candidates who won’t miss the bus every morning – time management and organization  

The food industry is fast paced, with tight deadlines and shifting priorities. Candidates should be able to manage their time effectively and stay organized in order to meet these demands.   


A candidate who enjoys change – adaptability and flexibility  

The food industry is constantly changing, with new challenges and opportunities arising on a regular basis. It is important to be adaptable and flexible, with the ability to adjust to new situations and environments. Some people don’t enjoy constant change so certain careers in the food industry might not be for them. 



The food industry is a challenging and rewarding field that requires a unique set of skills and qualifications. Candidates who possess these skills and qualifications and demonstrate a passion for the industry will be highly sought after by employers. If you’re looking for your next aspiring candidate, reach out to the recruitment experts at The Sterling Choice – we’ll find the perfect fit for you. 

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About The Author

Lukas Vanterpool

I started The Sterling Choice with Gareth Whyatt back in August 2013. We’ve always remained true to ourselves and what it is we’re trying to achieve – A great company with great people and great results! This journey never stops, we are always finding ways to support our colleagues and make sure they leave every day feeling fulfilled.

Over the years I’ve always been asked “what’s your USP??, what makes you different from all the other agencies??”. That’s an easy one for me to answer – “Our culture makes our business and our people make our culture”

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