The team share some insights into working in the Fresh Produce Industry with a quick Q&A...
What are the key trends in fresh produce/floral recruitment currently - where are the shortages/vacancies?
Automation is on the way. We are seeing more and more challenges with labour for some of the more hands-on positions. Full automation is still a way out, but the improvements that are being made are incredible and will change the face of the industry in time. Aside from that, the industry is always crying out for good people to join it.
Main shortages in horticulture are growers and people willing to do the hands-on side of the industry.
How is the job market performing at the moment - is demand high?
Job market is more buoyant than ever. There are a lot of factors involved in this, but we are finding that businesses are still needing good people at most levels. It’s very candidate driven meaning candidates typically have more than one option and businesses are needing to act quicker to secure talent.
What's changed since Covid?
The single biggest change has been the fact that remote/hybrid working is no longer a taboo subject. Most businesses have had to work out what it means to them and as a result, we have a range of different takes on it. But most companies are now offering the option to work remotely for a couple of days a week on average, but this does vary quite a bit. There have been changes in expectations within the industry for a better work/life balance. However, those working in operations rarely get this opportunity and those within supply chain are being pulled back into office more and more. Immediately after lockdowns, people were not open to change but we’re seeing people become more willing to look at options now. The other big change is the use of video calls. This has both been a positive and a negative. It can help speed some things up, but a lot of people are not keen on it too.
What can candidates expect from a career in fresh produce? The world moves fast, so has anything changed?
Fresh Produce is, for most people, an invisible industry. People go to the supermarket, buy what they need and leave without giving a single thought to the effort it takes to get the products on the shelves in the first place. The UK supermarkets have pushed the industry to be incredibly lean and efficient. These are skills and attributes you can carry with you forever.
Candidates can expect an industry full of passionate people who absolutely love what we do. The thing about the fresh produce industry is it’s ever evolving so you even if you’re in the same job 10 years later, so much will have changed.
What are the benefits/advantages of working in the produce/floral industries? What does it offer that other industries don't?
The industry has a lot to offer. It has something for everyone and I think a lot of people overlook the many opportunities the industry presents, not just from a monetary point of view, but the opportunity to travel, problem solve, think on your feet and work with a range of interesting people! The camaraderie in the sector is second to none. You have a real sense of working with people who are all in it together. The opportunities in the sector are endless and there’s always room to progress your career. It’s fascinating to know where your food comes from and being able to make the difference when it comes to Brexit, sustainable growing, carbon footprints etc.
What qualifications, skills and personality traits are you looking for in candidates for produce/floral roles? Anything new these days?
Qualification can be anything within agriculture, horticulture, marketing, food science etc is always of interest. The MDS scheme or similar grad schemes are fantastic. Quality wise, we always look for people that are genuinely interested in what they do and want to look for ways to continuously improve things. I don’t think it’s an industry you can be in without being excited about what’s going on- the biggest traits we look for are inquisitiveness and resilience
What types of roles are you recruiting for now? Are any new roles emerging in the industry?
We recruit for every function within a business. Be that Technical, Commercial, Operations, Finance, HR, IT, Growing (arable, top fruit, soft fruit), Agonomists etc etc. I wouldn’t say we are seeing new roles necessarily, but the requirements in each function are changing. The best candidates are those who have a bit of exposure to a couple of different functions as this will allow them to draw on their experience and apply it in different ways.
In summary, join the industry! It is a great place to be with the opportunity to take your career in a range of directions. It’s a resilient, recession proof industry which will keep you on your feet.