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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Bleeding plants and food tech. What next?

I have been an executive recruiter for decades and what has struck me is how complex and technical roles have become. People think the food and drink sector is about, well, food and drink but it’s much more than baking bread or brewing beer.

Just recently I have been looking to put candidates forward for the following roles:

  1. Director of technical services work with natural anti-oxidants and natural colour extracts

  2. Senior technical manager creating new product flavours and reformulations due to local regulatory requirements

  3. Technical sales role requiring a commercial background and an understanding of bakery ingredients. This is not just a sales role but an additional understanding of how the customer is going to formulate ingredients within the baking process

  4. Technical Sales Director with a background in food science and preferably a degree in chemistry. This candidate needs to understand technology and applications while being able to sell into major food manufactures. The need to familiarise themselves with new products and provide ingredients for forward plans.

  5. An expert in texture and starches and hydrocolloids. In case you weren’t sure Hydrocolloids are functional carbohydrates. These are used in many foods to enhance their shelf-life and quality. These additives are used to modify the viscosity and texture of food products like ice cream, salad dressings, gravies, processed meats, and beverages.

Looking for someone to make plants bleed!

I have many conversations during the week and one of the most fascinating was about an MD role to oversee the development of a plant-based burger that needed to taste and react like meat and even bleed! It is obvious that food is changing beyond recognition. I have already written about vertical farming on LinkedIn. I realise the whole food industry begins even before farmers are thinking about their soil quality and their ability to extract the most from the least amount of land.

This is where the new digital agronomist comes in

Once upon a time a farmer would walk a field with a bag full of seed and broadcast it to the wind while hoping for the best. Now a digital agronomist will help pinpoint the state of the soil, crop physiology and crop protection. These new professionals have considerable expertise in crop and data science. However, in addition they are now utilising digital technologies, including satellite imagery to profoundly improve business practices.

These digital agronomists are going to be a powerful force for good in the UK’s food production industry

Covid 19 has demonstrated just how important food security is for our nation’s well-being. Data capture and crop management that has its foundations in data collection, archives will transform production and management. Hand-held devices and remote sensing technology alongside tractor mounted hardware and field gantries can all contribute to extracting the maximum yield while looking after the soil and environment.

We need the right people to make UK food production a global player

Soil and weather data in combination can assist in accurate predictions and estimates around biophysical yield potential. Applied digital technology can assist in precision application of fertilisers and pesticides to reduce environmental impact, increase yields and cut costs. multi-spectral imaging technology can keep an eye on crops and work out optimal harvest times. Geographic sensor systems and satellite imagery all build up a profoundly detailed picture of crops and their management which will make the UK a future global leader in food production.

Expertise, digital competences and creativity are required

Therefore, we will be looking for candidates demonstrating expertise in crop intelligence systems, data analysis, environmental modelling and software design. It is extraordinarily exciting but also a very serious development. With the global population rising and land being used for human activity the pressure is definitely on to operate at maximum efficiency. For example, there are optical satellite sensors available that can detect infrared wavelengths of light that come from agricultural land. This data can be used to show how crops are doing under specific conditions. In addition, a satellite can cover vast areas and provide huge data sets very quickly.

I think it’s time we developed a new respect for all those professionals that assist in bringing food to our table. Never underestimate the power ad importance of the food and drink industry. In the meantime, if you are looking to fill a vacancy, no matter how complex, do give me a call.

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