Getting Involved in the Food Industry: A Guide for Beginners

Are you interested in getting involved in the food industry? Whether you're looking to start a home food business, become a catering manager, or pursue a career in food science, there are many opportunities available. To get started, you'll need to understand the regulations and certifications required for the industry, as well as the resources available to help you learn more. Internships are a great way to gain experience and build connections in the food industry. Reach out to your school and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) for help finding internships.

Additionally, consider taking additional certifications to build your knowledge base. If you're starting a home food business, you'll need to understand FDA regulations and your state and local health department. Local and county health agencies inspect food service establishments and food retailers, provide technical assistance to food facilities, and educate consumers about food safety. Urban agriculture is also becoming increasingly popular, with many small startups focusing on this area.

You don't need experience in urban agriculture to participate; there are opportunities for people with sales, marketing, fundraising, and communication skills as well. To become a catering manager, you must be competent and well-trained in the areas of food production and service. You must also have experience supervising operations and training catering staff. Catering managers spend a lot of time in their offices planning the details of events; however, they often travel to meeting places, hotels and convention centers.

The first step to pursuing a career in food is to educate yourself. There are many books, podcasts, movies, websites and symposiums available that can help you navigate the world of food. Additionally, consider attending conferences and events related to food policy, food culture and sustainability issues. When it comes to financing your food business, there are several options available.

Many new food companies ask investors for funding or apply for loans. Bank loans are an option; however, banks are often hesitant to provide loans to business owners for the first time. There are also alternative lenders you can consult. Manufacturing presents opportunities for people seeking careers in food science and other positions related to food processing. FDA inspects food facilities on a variable schedule based on product risk level, elapsed time since previous inspection and compliance history, and other factors.

Research chefs create new foods and dishes for food manufacturing companies, restaurants and other food-based businesses. Both a food truck business and a home catering business have complications; however, they tend to require less capital to start than a full-fledged brick-and-mortar restaurant. As you prepare to become head chef, you should familiarize yourself with food and beverage preparation, menus, recipes, cooking techniques, and other factors that are essential to creating a good meal. In carrying out their managerial job duties, today's food industry workers face pressure to keep up with changing consumer trends. Food science technicians often focus on areas such as health and safety, process and technology improvements, distribution, preservation and quality control. Food manufacturers, processors, packers, carriers, distributors, receivers, forks and importers are required to establish, maintain and make available to the FDA certain records that will allow the agency to identify all food products handled by the facility. This position is often included in the field of “Food and Beverage Manager” or “Food and Beverage Director”.

They need to coordinate with everyone involved in the kitchen area to ensure that the food looks good; that all orders are served on time; and customer complaints are handled efficiently. Passion can take you a long way when it comes to how to start a food business; however hard work and business intelligence are also essential. Depending on the type of food business you operate; your business may need to keep records in addition to those required by the Bioterrorism Act; make them available to the FDA; or even become a cookbook author. This guide provides an overview of how to get involved in the food industry; from understanding regulations; finding internships; taking certifications; researching resources; financing options; job duties; record keeping requirements; or even becoming an author.

Claire Ence
Claire Ence

Avid coffee geek. Lifelong rock climbing maven. Hardcore foodie & travel junkie!