My food & drink job: Meg Forrest, technologist, Farne Salmon

Meg Forrest, process technologist at Farne Salmon

A hands-on approach and being passionate will get you far in your food & drink career, says Meg

Name: Meg Forrest

Age: 23

Job title: process technologist

Company: Farne Salmon, Duns

Education: Mary Erskine School and Abertay University studying BSc (Hons) Food and Consumer Science

 

Why did you decide to go for a career in food?

During my time at the Mary Erskine School I took a great interest in home economics, learning to understand the consumer and their needs, be it food trends or nutrition. This, coupled with a love of food and learning to cook with my relatives, made me look into university courses that would further my knowledge of food. Abertay provided the perfect course and gave me plenty of opportunities to visit factories, gain vital knowledge of the food industry through placements and lectures and created important contacts to open doors and start my career.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two).

It’s my role to take a customer-approved product from the kitchen stage all the way through to launch. This means conducting trials to upscale the product, ensuring we keep the same quality and flavour profile that we had at kitchen stage; training staff on how to make the product, submitting the product for nutritional and shelf life testing and checking artwork for the label. among other responsibilities.

Read more: 10 food & drink entrepreneurs share their best career tips

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day at Farne is different and usually presents some challenges. Most days I will be running trials in the factory, gathering yield data and ensuring that all staff understand how the product is to be made using the machinery we have. I also conduct taste test and benchmarking sessions so we can learn how to improve our products and compare them to our competitors.

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. What was the process like?

I had one interview for my job at Farne with the HR manager and my current manager after finding the advert on a job search engine. They asked me questions about my knowledge and experience, what challenges I had faced within the industry, how I dealt with them at the time and what I would do differently if the same situation was to arise now. I had a tour of the factory where I was able to prove some of the knowledge that I already had and show off my passion for the product.

What’s the best part about working for a food company?

The food industry allows you to be creative and creates new challenges for you to face and conquer.

There is so much development and innovation within the food industry, it is very exciting. There is always room for improvement on products, be that through new machinery, new ingredients or functional packaging. The food industry allows you to be creative and creates new challenges for you to face and conquer. Being surrounded by food all day every day is a major perk of the job as well.

Read more: Edinburgh student to become Sainsbury’s CEO for a day

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink?

I think there is a lack of awareness and understanding within the general public about the work that goes into getting a single product onto the shelf. There are so many different roles and people involved in order to launch a product, most people assume that the only jobs available are roles on the factory floor. Food is something that we will always need and therefore will always be an expanding industry with new prospects for everyone.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry?

Having a hands-on approach and showing a passion will get you far

Take every opportunity you are given - knowledge of food and the process really is a vital part of working within the food and drink industry. Having a hands-on approach and showing a passion will get you far. I would not be in the position I am today if it was not for my placement opportunities from university and showing a strong interest in the industry.

What’s your ultimate career dream?

Having started at the bottom of the product development ladder as a graduate process technologist, my main aim is to continue moving up the ladder and eventually become a product launch manager or NPD controller. I like the idea of taking on bigger responsibilities, having more interaction with the customer and input to the final product.

Interested in finding out more about food & drink careers? Check out The Grocer Jobs for the latest vacancies 

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