Food science 'gap year' targets UK recruit crisis

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food industry Food Nutrition

A new initiative by a UK supermarket to send students on food
discovery 'gap years' around the world aims to help plug a national
shortage of food scientists.

Students will spend a year visiting a range of suppliers and producers all over the globe in a bid to whet their appetite for a career in the food industry, according to UK supermarket Sainsbury's, which is funding the scheme.

The course, named Taste the World, shows a pro-active approach from the food industry to tackle the UK's shortage of food scientists.

Applicants for food science courses have more than halved in the last decade, according to the UK's Confederation of British Industry, while food industry estimates suggest one in four jobs is vacant in the sector.

"Encouraging graduates to become interested in food technology is crucial to the industry and ultimately the future of Britain's health,"​ said professor Christine Williams, of the University of Reading and who advised Sainsbury's on the scheme.

Williams, the former head of Reading's prestigious Food Biosciences school, previously told​ she feared the UK could be reduced to an admin centre for the global food industry because some companies were starting to move research facilities elsewhere.

Both Williams and Sainsbury's believe the Taste the World scheme will help the industry attract high quality candidates and help to reconnect the food sector with young people.

Liz Jarman, Sainsbury's head of product technology, said: "The last three years has seen a massive turnaround in what supermarkets, and suppliers, are doing to clean up their acts to make food healthier, and to feed the nation. It couldn't be a more exciting time to join the industry."

Sainsbury's has opened its scheme to food and science degree graduates, and said it would cover basic expenses, £1,000 for flights and insurance, and help plan the trip.

A recent comment article from this news publication called for a more pro-active approach to tackle the UK's food scientist shortage. See Food Science for All

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