No matter what happens in the job market, food is a constant in our lives. And every day, consumers want more from the food on their table. This is where the skills of a food technologist come in, and so this sector remains a sunrise industry despite the economic slowdown.
The fact that the industry is at its initial growth stage in India means getting a job is relatively easy. “This is one sector that has immense potential to generate employment and revenues in India,” says food technologist Sumit Nair.
At 26, Nair is already a veteran of many prestigious food safety summits. He started his career with Coca Cola India as a trainee in 2003 and is now the manager, food safety, at Johnson Diversey, leading providers of cleaning and hygiene solutions for industrial and institutional markets.
Nair spotted the opportunity early. “A senior in school who did BSc in food technology landed a great job in an MNC after graduation. This made me realise that food technology is a lucrative career and I opted for the same at the Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Sciences, under DU,” he says.
His view is that “with the industry still in its infancy in India, students taking up food technology have a better chance of employment”. The government’s stress on developing the food processing sector is expected to lead to a spike in demand for food technologists in the near future, he predicts.
What does one need to become a food technologist?
“Everything in the industry is based on physics, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition and engineering. So a student should have a sound knowledge of the basic sciences,” says Dr Shalini Sehgal, head, department, food technology, Bhaskaracharya College.
Various profiles and options are available to graduates. “Dairy companies, packaging firms and others in the food industry employ fresh graduates as quality control analysts, research and development managers, marketing managers and food microbiologists,” says Dr Sehgal. The prospects sound quite delicious.
what’s it about?
Food technology is an applied science course which makes a student fit for the following industries — food processing, retail, hotel, agri-products, and in the service sector in departments like quality assurance, production, hygiene, laboratory, etc. Food processing generally means making value-added products through fresh produce or ingredients by increasing the shelf life of the product or adding flavour to it, e.g. making jam, jelly, fruit drinks, juices, potato chips, flavoured yoghurt, etc
7 am: Wakes up, does some workout
9 am: Reaches office
9.30 am: Begins teleconference with clients
2 pm: Breaks for lunch
4 pm: Meets staff from other departments
6 pm: Leaves work
A BSc graduate can get Rs 3 to 4 lakh pa in a reputable company. Remuneration can go up after a Masters degree. The first level for a BSc (food tech), say, in a quality department could be quality executive, earning Rs 3 to 4 lakh pa
Senior executive – Quality: Rs 5 lakh pa
Asst Manager – Quality: Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh pa
Manager – Quality: Gets around Rs 9 to 10 lakh (depends on experience) pa
G.M - Corporate Quality: (In case working for a multi units industry) : Rs 15 lakh onward pa
Knowledge of and a certain comfort level with the physical sciences, biology and mathematics
Aptitude for working in a laboratory environment
A basic interest in processed foods available in the market
How do I get there?
In Delhi, there are two colleges under Delhi University for BSc (Hons) in food technology and normally the admissions are through cut-off lists of the colleges. One can go for higher studies like MSc (food tech) through institutes like the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, or opt for MBA (agri-business management)
Institutes & URLs
Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Sciences (Delhi University)
Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women (Delhi University)
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
University of Bombay, Mumbai
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, www.bamu.net
Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore
National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management
Pros & Cons
The food industry has tremendous growth potential, creating a whole lot of jobs for graduates
Consumers are becoming more concerned about food safety, prompting corporate houses to recruit food technologists
The food industry in India is still largely an unorganised sector
It will take some time to create more awareness on food safety issues in the entire industry