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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

2018 has been a year of turmoil, upset, argument and uncertainty.....

and they are just the good bits! I don’t want to mention the dreaded B word but certainly that has dominated conversations and divided the country. I work in recruitment and have often wondered how Theresa May actually manages her job when the odds are so firmly stacked against her most of the time. Perhaps I should call her and see if she’s looking for a new opportunity!

But as we approach a new year I would like to offer a ray of hope rather than simply outlining reasons to despair. The food industry has seen profound developments. Yes, there have been some ups and downs, but in the main we have seen some real development and cause for hope in the future.

Interestingly the number of vegans in the UK has soared to 3.5 million. 25% of UK dinners do not contain meat or fish. Therefore anyone investing in plant foods is backing a winner. Meat free ready meals now represent 15%+ of the market. Kevin Brennan CEO of Quorn Foods noted that there has been a noteworthy increase in meat- reduction diets. Flexitarianism now joins veganism as a new tagline.

The rise of Mycroprotein, that is made from fungus fermentation, is significant. Quorn has invested in a £7 million research hub to head global innovation. The new plant will assist in mycroprotein fermentation and also product development. Undoubtedly the need for highly qualified, creative and experienced workers will be uppermost in the company’s mind.

Food packaging has also come under the spotlight. David Attenborough prompted great consternation when his Blue Planet series demonstrated just how our waste plastic is causing great distress to wildlife. People started revising their attitude to packaging and demanding change. The plastic straw ban became one of the most read stories of 2018. This is significant because it’s an environmental advocacy story and they don’t often hit the headlines.

Certainly what we have seen during 2018 is a desire to change behaviours and do what we can to tread more lightly on the planet. Therefore technicians, designers and scientists have never been more in demand within the food industry.

This also extends to the staff that work in major outlets such as Starbucks. Do you remember the racial profiling story that went viral earlier in the year? What about the debacle about naming plant based “milks” Should they be called that? What we do know is that interest in food has probably never been higher alongside food safety. Nutrition, health and wellness are some of the most important topics in people’s lives this year.

It's time to find the develop a more diverse board room

Meanwhile as recruiters specialising in the food industry we have been mostly working with client organisations that recognize the importance of taking a proactive approach to finding the best talent in the market. The organisations that realise that the best candidates in the market need to be gently coerced in to exploring new opportunities with new companies and are not sat there looking at job advertisements and registering their CV’s with numerous agencies.

In the last 12 months 85% of the work that we have undertaken has been outside of the UK, numerous assignments completed across EMEA, North America and we are staring to build a significant following across Asia.

The one area where we are seeing continued demand are the technical and food science disciplines with highly qualified R&D and product development professionals always in demand and not that easy to prize from their existing employers. This trend looks set to continue in to next year and beyond.

Meanwhile I would like to wish all readers of these articles a very happy Christmas season and a prosperous and healthy new year. If you need any advice or are seeking specialist executive staff in the food industry please do contact me on LinkedIn. Until 2019 that’s me signing off!

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