I took a walk down memory lane this month, paying a visit to my old university campus. While there were new veterinary buildings, extra student digs and a plush coffee area (café-couture wasnt big in the 90s), much of the campus I still recognised even my old room (ah, halcyon days).
It was surreal to think that it has been well over a decade since I was last there. Back then, the Sutton Bonington site (part of the University of Nottingham) offered courses in food science, agriculture and environmental science; since then it has expanded to a School of Biosciences. One wonders if they still have the drinking contests? I expect so. Or the lovely librarians? Undoubtedly. A pint may be more than a £1 now though…
All this reminiscing got me thinking: how many of my class of 98 are still working in the food sector? Im lucky enough to be in touch with a number of them. The answer? Not many.
A few work for big retailers, or food manufacturers, while a few went back to family farms. But the majority have become lawyers, recruitment agents or IT specialists. Four years in the sticks meant the bright lights and big salaries of London were harder to resist.
It seems fitting, therefore, that this issue of Footprint is young at heart. Theres a fivepage focus on catering for kids: do we need environmental guidelines alongside those for nutrition? A focus on Nestlés MSc intern: we need to attract more of this kind of talent to help our sector meet its sustainability challenges.
This is exactly the breath of fresh air the sector needs. And perhaps this new thinking will help more foodservice businesses garner recognition among the worlds top ethical companies (see page 8) The food industry provides one in seven of all jobs in the UK, but our sector is often seen as the poor relation to retail. Indeed, when it comes to academic talent, its a case of please sir, we want some more…