There are many ways to start a career in food and drink product development. Higher education is one route, and there are even a few specific food product development courses. They tend to involve a placement year, which can give you valuable real-world experience of the role. Below we round up the relevant courses and outline Froghop’s placement opportunities.
Let’s start with a quick explanation of what food product development is all about. The process encompasses the stages involved in bringing a product to life. It begins with an idea and identifying a need, and exploring the concept through screening, prototypes and testing, through to packaging, labelling and manufacturing.
The process of developing new food and drink products can be complex. It requires in-depth knowledge of ingredients and scientific analysis, taste and sensory analysis, processing techniques, packaging, legislation and the demands and preferences of the market. This is why taking a degree course makes sense.
Food product development courses
Froghop founder Melanie Loades trained as a biochemist at Bangor University. However, not long after graduating, she realised life in the laboratory wasn’t the right fit. She then joined Unilever, where product development became her passion, and she went on to complete an MSc in Food and Management. On her way to starting Froghop, she worked across many food and drink product areas and has, of course, seen the process through from end-to-end many times.
Studying for a degree provides you with the expertise you’ll need to pursue a career in food and drink product development. There are some great courses that help you start you on your journey. Each of these food product development courses includes a year-long placement, which you could, of course, complete at Froghop.
Set on a 635-hectare farm in Shropshire, Harper Adams is a specialist university tackling the future development of global food production, processing, animal sciences, engineering, land management and sustainable business. With a £4m Innovation Centre on campus, you’ll have access to everything from molecular diagnostics laboratories to food processing facilities.
The Food Technology and Product Development BSc is accredited by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST). It’s a full-time course for four years, which, of course, includes a placement year. You’ll learn about ingredients, food transportation, commercialising products, business strategy and more. In addition, you’ll have opportunities to enter new product development competitions and start your own food business.
Sheffield Hallam says that it’s one of the UK’s largest and most diverse universities. Its website highlights its progressive teaching, research and partnerships that are characterised by a focus on real-world impact, addressing the health, economic and social challenges facing society.
Sheffield’s Food Marketing and Product Development BSc is a full-time, four-year course. You’ll delve into the food industry by studying manufacturing and retail perspectives and gaining practical experience alongside the theoretical knowledge that food marketing requires.
There’s an emphasis on critical and creative thinking. You’ll develop the analytical, technical, commercial and professional skills you need for the industry and learn to identify market niches and meet ever-changing consumer demand. You’ll also have the opportunity to arrange a year-long work placement between your third and fourth years.
University College Birmingham
University College Birmingham is highly respected for providing career-focused education and training. Having invested £130 million in its campuses and facilities, it offers outstanding facilities to develop your industry skills as well as award-winning teaching staff.
The Food Science and Culinary Innovation BSc will give you the latest knowledge and practical skills to embark upon a career in the food industry. The course has been developed against the key skills competencies outlined by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (accreditation currently subject to approval). It reflects the evolving needs of the sector. It will enable you to explore a broad range of subjects from product development, food quality and safety to sustainability and food science, along with the psychology behind consumer choice and sensory analysis.
You’ll be able to put your skills into practice in the purpose-built Food Science and Innovation Suite, and you’ll also have the chance to take a paid 48-week placement in industry.
University of Greenwich
Set in the historic Old Royal Naval College on the bank of the River Thames, the University of Greenwich has an iconic setting. Its research addresses issues from global health to public safety, feeding directly into teaching.
Greenwich offers a two-year Masters course in Food Innovation. This MSc course is particularly aimed at graduates and professionals looking to build their career in product development. It majors on how understanding ingredients are developed and how products are taken from concept to completion. The course staff have experience in areas including nutrition and public health, food chemistry and microbiology, product development and packaging, as well as food safety, legislation, and sustainability.
Food product development placements at Froghop
Work placements are vital for gaining real-life experience and building your confidence and skills before you finish your course. They will help you understand which areas you’re most interested in and passionate about and may lead to a job when you graduate. During your year in industry, you can meet challenges, grow your network, make decisions, manage money and possibly staff, plan and use your initiative. Essentially, you’ll develop the real-world experience employers want, as well as a deep working knowledge of your subject.
At Froghop, placement students get hands-on with projects and can get plenty of (fully supported) contact with customers. We believe there are three critical aspects to the role:
- First, practical and technical skills around recipe development, prototyping and iterating the product
- Commercial and business acumen for costing, sourcing, scaling up and dealing with the nutrition, regulation and legal side of things
- Interpersonal skills to work with producers, suppliers and manufacturers to ensure the project through to completion
All in all, it’s quite a diverse skill set, which is why our customers, both large and small, look for our support. We offer excellent placements for students at Froghop. It’s very likely that you’ll see something you work on through to completion and launch as a commercial product.