Imaginative Teaching Resources & Inspirational Career Ideas from the Chilled Food Industry
Lauryn Beggs is a Technical Graduate with Greencore. She joined the company in September 2021 and when we spoke with her she was working at the company’s Bristol site, which makes chilled soups and sauces.
What is your degree? Where did you study?
I studied Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds.
When did you first become interested in Food Science?
I’ve always loved food, enjoy going out for meals and learning about diet and health. During school, Home Economics was my favourite subject so it was only natural for me to gravitate towards further study in this area. I was fascinated by the link between nutrition and science, and the biochemistry that makes food what it is. I took A-Levels in HE, Biology and Geography.
An older cousin who had studied Food and Nutrition at Sheffield Hallam University also inspired me as she really enjoyed her job as a Food Technologist and I could see the potential for future career development. My aunt was a Food Technology teacher who also encouraged me to study a food related degree due to the diverse job opportunities. Although at one point I was considering doing Geography or Geology at University.
Did you have a career goal in mind when you applied for University?
Not really! I knew I wanted to work in the food industry but was unaware of the various careers paths. I had a vague idea of what product development was so that was probably my goal at the time. I took a Food Science Careers module in my second year of university, and the coursework involved really helped me discover what was possible. I completed my placement year at a flavouring company (Synergy Flavours) which I loved even though I had been applying to mainly technical placement roles.
What made you apply to your company after graduation?
Throughout University I had heard of Greencore as they are one of the largest convenience food manufacturers in the UK. A lot of Leeds alumni work here too so I was well aware of how fantastic the company is. One week in final year, I noticed the Group Technical Graduate Scheme advertised in a careers newsletter from our departmental employability team. After reading the job description I thought this role was perfect for me. I was eager to obtain technical experience but was still unsure which particular route to go down, so a varied graduate scheme in which I would be involved in different areas looked like the best option. When I did more research on Greencore, I really liked the company’s commitment to sustainability and helping local communities as that is something I’m very passionate about. I also read that Greencore has a great internal careers system with lots of development and training opportunities which I thought would be extremely beneficial. This Graduate Scheme is very competitive so I was thrilled to be chosen, especially as it was the only job I applied for – I feel incredibly lucky!
What does your job involve? Is it fun, interesting?
The Technical Graduate Scheme gives me the opportunity to move around different key functions within the wider Technical Team. Specifically this is Technical Services, Quality Assurance, Process Development and Hygiene. Bristol is a small site so every week I am getting involved with multiple tasks in each of these areas but focusing on one main project in one area at a time.
I’m coming towards the end of my first year in the scheme and I have really enjoyed the variety of work I’ve been involved with. From having no technical food manufacturing experience, I was nervous that it would take me a while to understand the complexities of food safety and quality procedures followed on site. However, everyone has been so helpful and allow me to get involved in tasks hands-on! For example: customer complaint investigations, compliance audits, writing customer specifications, cleaning validations and factory trials.
My knowledge grows everyday – including new things from engineers or operations. Kettles are used on site to cook our products, but nothing like a small kettle at home. I’m talking massive kettles which can hold over 1 tonne and have a total of 1.4km product transfer pipework! This allows us to produce 34.2 million chilled soups and sauces per year.
I’m moving to sandwich production next so that will be a completely different process and manufacturing environment to grasp! It’s always true to say that no two days are the same in technical.
What are your long-term career plans?
At this point, I still have no idea other than wanting to stay within the food industry. I’ve enjoyed technical since I started my job so I cannot see myself moving from this area. There are so many different roles available so I probably will try to move across them to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible before completely settling down with a long-term plan. Now I’m working within food manufacturing but perhaps at some point I will want to give retail a try. As long as I’m doing a job I enjoy, for a company I’m passionate about that’s all that matters to me!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about Food Science as a career?
Definitely go for it! Speak to your teachers and reach out to local food manufacturing companies to see if you can get any work experience or mentoring. Research your interests – have a look at the IFST and IGD websites (and CEd of course!). Check out the UCAS website to find out more about courses on offer, what you might study and the best universities. A lot of companies (including Greencore) also offer apprenticeships – where you study and work at the same time – so consider this too.
The food and drink sector is a significant part of UK economy, employing 14% of the national workforce. With so many jobs available, it’s an exciting, dynamic industry to be a part of. People are generally unaware of what goes on behind the scenes to put food in supermarket chilled cabinets, the vast supply chains and collaboration involved.
I feel very supported in this career and highly recommend food science to anyone considering it!