How Do I Start A Career In Food Retail?
Not all culinary careers take place in a kitchen or even a restaurant. As an increasingly large number of people pursue their professional dreams of working with food, it’s becoming more common to look for careers that combine food and other areas of interest—usually business, marketing, or even retail.
In the past, food retail was fairly simple and straightforward. Grocery stores all looked pretty much the same, and people didn’t expect to have much in the way of choice when it came to filling their homes with food.
However, today’s consumers have incredible variety when it comes to where, how, and why they shop. From gourmet specialty shops and organic retail providers to huge warehouse-style stores, food is everywhere.
Working in Food Retail
Many food retail jobs don’t require an understanding of the culinary world beyond what most of us already know. Store clerks, managers, and other hourly employees can get hired without any food experience and still enjoy a great career.
However, at the upper levels, having a culinary degree can be a great boost. That’s because many consumers want more than just food—they want access to nutrition, alternative cuisine options, and organic food education.
Someone with a culinary degree (or a hospitality degree that combines food and business) is in a good place to offer just this. With the right training, you could become a:
• Food Buyer
• Nutrition Expert
• Field Manager
• Food Analyst
• Boutique Specialty Food Provider
• Specialty Store Owner
• In-Store Baker/Chef
As a general rule, the more advanced your culinary degree, the better your chances of finding employment at the management or executive level. This is especially true if you have experience in retail or business (or you took additional courses in this side of the culinary world during school).
The ability to cook good, healthy food is so much more than just a skill for use in the kitchen. By becoming a food expert—knowing where it comes from, how to combine flavors, and the chain of distribution—you can be a valuable asset to consumers.
Stores are aware of how much more their customers demand from their retail providers, and in 2012, more food retail job opportunities are expected to open up to meet this demand.