Hiring Trends in the Food Industry

Since COVID-related industry shortages, the food manufacturing industry has been consistently rebounding over the last year or two. In January 2023, the sector made a modest gain of 6,900 additional jobs, bringing the total employment up to 1.726 million workers (seasonally adjusted). For comparison, employment (also seasonally adjusted) a year ago was 1.668 million, indicating steady and consistent growth in the sector over the past year.

The food industry has also been turning towards the future over the last year or so. In December 2021, GlobalData noted a clear increase in food manufacturers hiring for roles focused on the “future of work.” 50.6% companies reported hiring for at least one such role, compared with just 37.3% a year prior. These roles fall under a nebulous umbrella, largely focused on developing strategies to deal with shifts in the workplace, from the rise of remote work to flexible work weeks to the transformation of how work itself is carried out.

Like many other sectors, the food industry is working to fill empty roles while also making strategic shifts for maximum efficiency and profit. For instance, in 2022, a Tyson plant in Kentucky made headlines for laying off 200 workers due to a shift in product mix (towards fully-cooked products largely produced through automation). As consumer demands change, companies will be looking to hire more flexibly and develop hiring practices that can better react to those marketplace shifts.

According to one 2022 study, six out of ten employers in the industry say their biggest challenge is finding qualified people to fill necessary open roles. Their top three reasons are:[4]

  1. Not acquiring enough applicants, coupled with lack of interest in the job opening
  2. Candidates losing interest in the position or receiving another job offer during the process
  3. Not paying enough for the role

Additionally, employees in the industry are prioritizing a more well-rounded experience. The same study found that employees’ top priorities are compensation (34%), career opportunity and growth (20%), company culture (19%), and work-life balance (14%); the remaining 13% cite a handful of other priorities as their number-one concerns. Hiring in this market means highlighting the full extent of the employee value proposition and ensuring that all aspects remain competitive to attract and retain talent in the long term. By working with an expert recruiter to fill key roles, companies can ensure their value is presented to candidates in the most appealing way possible while combining long-term strategy with careful consideration of current trends.

By Rose Dorta

Are you a high-performing leader or believe you have the potential to tackle a more challenging role? Would you be interested in career opportunities that are seeking these attributes?

I’d love to chat with you and answer any questions that you have. Email me, Rose Dorta, Managing Director of Kaizen HR Solutions, here.

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