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School of Food and Nutrition

Food Technology Careers

Professional Food Technology is a combination of food science, food engineering and food business. Today it offers some exciting careers options both in New Zealand and overseas.

Over the last 50 years professional Food Technologists have made food safe, nutritious and good value for money. An enormous range of foods and flavours are now available in local supermarkets all year round.

Consumers are now demanding healthier foods with more flavour, less additives and less processing. These are the challenges of the next generation of food technologists.

How do I become a Food Technologist?

Hundreds of New Zealanders like Johanna Catato are paid to develop new food products.

New Zealand Universities offer several food science degrees and one full professional food technology degree. The Bachelor of Food Technology with Honours from Massey University is one of the premier degrees of its kind in the world. For 40 years Massey Food Technology graduates have been sought after anywhere and their skills have had a huge impact on New Zealand’s largest sector, the food industry.

New Zealand’s $30 billion dollar food industry earns over 50% of the country’s export income. The industry is internationally competitive and technologically advanced. There are many challenging opportunities available to food technologists, including movement into management and overseas employment. Hence there is an ongoing need for newly qualified graduates to enter the industry to take up exciting and stimulating jobs in many food sectors, including seafood, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, cereals and bakery products, health foods, wine, beverages and convenience products.

The purpose of the Food Technology degree at Massey University is to produce graduates who are professionals with a wide range of relevant knowledge and skills. Subjects covered include food chemistry, food microbiology and safety, quantitative skills, engineering and processing, marketing and consumer research, business and quality management.

Students develop problem solving skills, critical thinking, reasoning, self-management, the ability to work in teams, and effective written and oral communication. Prospective employers place great emphasis on these.

Jonathan FaullOthers like Jonathan Faull are paid to design processes and run the food factories that put food in our super markets.

The programme starts with chemistry, physics, mathematics and biological sciences. In the second and third years study becomes increasingly applied to food. The fourth year has an emphasis on individual and team project work that puts into practice of what has been learnt up till then.

Halfway through the degree you can choose to specialise in either food product technology or food process engineering. If you choose food product technology you will gain expertise in nutrition and food choice, food assessment and characterization, food quality assurance, and, especially, the development of new and novel food products. Product development is a hugely important activity in the highly competitive food industry.

If you choose food process engineering, you will gain skills in the ‘engineering of food’ and in ‘engineering for the food industry’. The engineering of food is concerned with how the food on the one hand, and the process and process conditions on the other, interact, i.e. how they affect one another. This interaction is, largely, unique to food processing; it both enables the manufacture of novel products and presents fascinating technical challenges. Engineering for the food industry is a vital traditional engineering function that has to do with matters such as project engineering, plant layout, process control, energy and water use, and packaging.

Career opportunities

Food technologists usually start work as food product developers or as food process engineering specialists, but many other roles are possible.

New-Product Development Technologists

Every year, more and more new food products are launched on to the consumer market. This trend will continue, as consumer demand for attractive, fresh-like, healthy and convenient foods at affordable prices strengthens. Food technologists have the intellectual and practical training to conceive of and develop the products that people will be eating and drinking as the 21st century advances, tasks that require the intelligent application of both technical and commercial skills.

Food Process Engineering Specialists

Process engineering specialists are employed in all sectors of the food industry, and also in the food processing equipment and packaging materials supply industries. Typical tasks include researching and evaluating alternative processing options; exercising judgement in deciding the best ways of doing things; carrying out full costings for projects; controlling the expenditure of large amounts of money; managing a project as whole through design and commissioning to making a plant and process work; and technical trouble shooting in sorting out all the detailed intricacies of complex and sophisticated processes, now commonly equipped with modern computerized control systems.

Many businesses in the food industry sell specialised food ingredients or packaging materials or equipment to other food industry companies. People involved in marketing and selling such products need a h3 technical understanding of products and the applications in which they can be used. Food technologists are ideally qualified for this role, and there are opportunities for working overseas, for New Zealand companies, to ensure close interaction with customers.

Other Roles

Food technologists take up positions in production management, quality assurance management, regulatory control and scientific research.

Massey University-trained food technologists can be found working throughout New Zealand, and the world, in companies ranging from small businesses to large multinationals. They work at all levels, from new graduate to senior management positions. Indeed, a number of our food technology graduates have advanced to be come chief executives of some of New Zealand’s most prominent companies.

Student profile

Janine Downes - Quality Improvement Technologist, Bluebird Foods Limited

Science subjects grabbed me at school, so I made a call and enrolled in technology at Massey. I had inspiring lecturers, who kept me really interested, and my whole class became very close - we gave each other great support and we still keep in touch, which is terrifically useful professionally.

After four awesome years, I came out with a degree in Food Technology.
I now work for an iconic New Zealand food manufacturer, where I am responsible for dealing with consumer complaints (very interesting and rewarding!), quality training of production personnel, hygiene control of production lines, quality audits, updating quality documentation and making sure that the whole process of developing new products from product concept through production and marketing trials, to commissioning of the manufacturing process and product launch. It always keeps the essential quality perspective.

"I found my degree course very challenging, but I knew, once I completed it, that it would set me up for a great career in the food industry. It has!"

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