Skills and knowledge - industry driver

A skilled, knowledgeable workforce is essential to deliver safe, good quality nutritious food in a sustainable manner. The food industry faces many challenges such as a shortage of skilled operatives, and increasingly fewer people with visibility of the wider industry and its relationship with regulatory bodies. Better communication within industry and between industry and external stakeholders will help to resolve these issues.

Explore the latest industry Skills and knowledge needs below. You may also be interested in viewing our current research projects.

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Skills by popularity graph

Fundamental needs

  • Brexit has led to a loss of skilled and knowledgeable people across the industry. There are also large knowledge gaps surrounding the specific impact of Brexit on legislation and guidance. There is a need for recruitment from the EU, and a need for guidance on how the new regulatory landscape affects the food industry. There is also a need for better food industry representation during the drafting of any new legislation.
  • Consumers require knowledge of the food industry to understand the complexities within it. Better knowledge will lead to a more informed debate over formulation and processing of food products. There is a need for clear communication to the consumer of the challenges facing the industry and the methods used to address those challenges. This should be done via the mass media.
  • Guidance on how to deal with waste products from production in the most sustainable manner is required, as well as guidance for consumers on how to minimise domestic waste.
  • Better communication between industry and legislators is required to inform both parties when guidance and legislation is being produced. There is also a need for clear guidance on the differences between different countries or legislative areas and the impact of those differences on the food industry.
  • There is a need for more skilled people to follow a career in the food industry. This can be addressed through better promotion of the industry as a whole, as well as increased collaboration between food companies and Academia. Promotion of the food industry as a stimulating and rewarding career pathway is also essential.
  • As the food industry becomes more reliant on digital solutions during production, distribution and retail, there is a need for people and syatems that can integrate the data produced. Meaningful integration of the food supply chain data will lead to more predictable production and better traceability. It will also have a positive impact on sustainability. New technologies for production and processing must be able to integrate into this digital architecture.

Emerging needs

  • Training is essential to maintain a skilled workforce. There is a need to develop training strategies and materials that keep people engaged and interested. The specific need for increased training on viruses was also discussed recently.
  • Recruitment of the next generation of food industry workers is a priority. The recruitment needs of the industry discussed recently included: Making the industry attractive to younger people; raising awareness of the industry among graduates; apprenticeships and internships; and generational differences in management style.
  • The new BRC Global Standard (BRCGS v9) was published in August 2022. Food industry representatives have discussed various aspects of the standard recently, including: Hygenic design clauses; validation of prerequisites; and application of culture and behaviour questions to seasonal or recently hired staff.
  • Precautionary allergen labelling is used by industry to highlight products that face an unavoidable risk of cross-contamination with an allergen. There is a need to make the assessment of the risk more consistent to aid harmonisation of this practice across the industry. There is also a need for the industry to be aware of differences in labelling practices between regulatory areas (e.g. USA vs UK).
  • The continuing divergence of UK and EU law post-Brexit has highlighted the need for a clear food-industry specific guide on those laws which now differ between the two areas. Other issues highlighted included the possibility of the UK becoming a market for materials that did not meet EU criteria, and the possibility of different regulatory zones within the UK such as Northern Ireland.
  • Restrictions on products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) came into force in October 2022, limiting their placement in larger stores. There is a need for further clarity on the reasoning behind this legislation, and a need to define those products that fall into the HFSS category more accurately. For example, plant-based products can be scored as being worse than the meat products that they are designed to replace.
  • Products are often labelled as low-calorie. There is a need to define the legal status of such claims, particularly in light of some claims made on the internet for certain products.
  • Greenwashing is the practice of claiming a product is more environmentally friendly than it is. There is a need for a system to accurately define and assess 'green' claims on products.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Campden BRI but are a summary of industrial feedback obtained from Campden BRI’s Member Interest Groups and interactions with government bodies and wider industry.

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