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Production Workers

Production workers in the food processing industry can account for up to fifty percent of the workforce. Production workers can be divided into two categories: 1) skilled and precision workers and 2) less-skilled machine operators and labourers. Less skilled labourers generally start as helpers to experienced workers and learn skills on the job. Many less skilled jobs can be learned in a few days or a week. Our research indicates a scarce supply of skilled workers.

Sanitation Workers

Sanitation workers perform hygienic roles within processing plants to ensure cleanliness standards are in place and enforced.

Machinists and Maintenance Workers

As the presence of technology increases in the food manufacturing industry, more and more workers are operating machinery. In the future, the food processing industry will require additional workers to maintain this new equipment to ensure it is in good working order. Electricians are one component of this category which are the most in demand by industry.


Butchers and meat cutters prepare standard cuts of meat and poultry for sale in retail or wholesale food establishments. They are employed in supermarkets, grocery stores, restaurants and butcher shops. There is currently a lack of qualified butchers in the food processing industry.

Administration Workers

The role of administration workers will become more important as food safety and traceability measures become imperative. Traceability programs deal with tracking and tracing, product recalls, crises management and identity preservation.

 Administrative workers will be responsible for tracking product through the supply chain and will thus require increasing levels of product knowledge. Example titles may include;

  • Receptionist
  • Accountant, Bookkeeper
  • Database Manager
  • Sales or Purchasing Agent
  • Supervisor
  • Shipper/Receiver
  • Technical Support

Research & Product Development

Food scientists and technologists work in research laboratories or on production lines to develop new products, test current ones, and control food quality. 

Food scientists and researchers often need masters or doctoral degrees and are thus difficult to source.

The role of researchers and product developers is becoming pivotal as food processors receive pressure to launch new and innovative products that respond to global competition. 

Similarly, new processes that allow for cost reduction in existing products are the jobs of researchers and product developers.

Employers look for workers who are reliable, pay attention to personal hygiene and have a good work ethic. 
Employees need to be able to work under direction, independently and in a team. Employees who develop specialized skills have more opportunities for better-paying work with more responsibility.

Accepting applications for food processing employment in the following experienced positions:


Bakers mix and bake ingredients to produce end-user products according to recipes. In an effort to increase product shelf life, par and batch bakery has become increasingly popular. Par bakers increase the labour and technology necessary at the factory level, but reduce labour time at the food service, retail and consumer levels as all is needed is to place the par baked ingredients in the oven. 

Although baker positions are seen as less skilled, harsh working conditions (including extreme temperatures) make these positions difficult to source at times. Shipper/Receivers
Perishable food may spoil if it is not properly packaged and delivered before shelf life expiry, so packaging and transportation employees play a vital role in the industry. 

The level of skill required to complete shipping and receiving duties makes the position available to a wide variety of skill levels and is thus not difficult to source.

Packaging Technicians

Similar to shippers and receivers, packaging employees play a vital role in the industry as food may spoil if it is not properly packaged. In addition,          ensuring the proper labeling regulations have been followed is a critical role of any food manufacturer. This requires an additional level of skill and expertise and thus qualified packaging technicians are in somewhat of a shortage in the industry.

Sales and Marketing Representatives

Sales representatives are responsible for securing sales outlets for food processors and include product sales and technical sales. Sales consist of          selling the product produced by the processor, while technical sales are more industrial focused and consist of selling the process and product costing. Technical sales require very detailed product knowledge.
As sales opportunities become increasingly global, the sales force within the Canadian food processing industry will need to be more sophisticated and professional. Sales representatives who can speak more than one language will be an asset to manufacturers.

Other Sales & Marketing

The sales and marketing occupations within the food processing sector usually exist within the sales and marketing department of the organization. Sales and marketing teams typically work together to attain goals related to increased sales, profits, revenue growth, brand/company awareness and recognition, and to introduce new products or services. Example titles may include;

  • Sales & Marketing Manager/Regional Sales Manager
  • Internet Communications Manager/Web Marketing Manager
  • Director communications
  • Manager, e-business
  • Marketing Manager
  • Promotions Manager

Sales and Marketing occupations may require the following qualifications; 
A university degree or college diploma in business administration or in a related field with a specialization in sales or marketing and several years of experience as a sales or marketing representative or in a related occupation maybe required. Progression to senior management positions is possible with experience.

Quality Assurance (QA)

Quality control technicians, also known as quality assurance technicians, work across the manufacturing, commercial and public sectors, and are responsible for carrying out checks on products and processes to ensure they meet predetermined national and international quality standards, for example, ISO 9000. Their work also includes putting in quality management systems to          continually improve the standard of product or service being offered.
Quality Management is a regulatory requirement for food and seafood processing facilities that evolved in response to international certification requirements, consumer expectations and the identification of new or emerging health hazards associated with the consumption of food. Adherence to QMP is an“international passport” for food and seafood. Quality assurance  staff is becoming increasingly important to meet the requirements of customers and government regulations.

Engineering and Management

Many of the management and engineering positions in the food processing industry are filled at the undergraduate and graduate level and represent an important link in the transfer of new technology to industry.

Human Resource Personnel

Typically, a food processing company will have a human resource department within the organization. This unit oversees all aspects (administration, management, pay & benefits, etc.) of human resource and personnel related activity. Often, the senior human resource staff will work with senior management and executives of the company to develop and implement personnel strategies and plans, dependent on the specific requirements of the company. 
In smaller food processing companies, less formal human resource structures may exist. There maybe one or two key people who handle all aspects of human resource and personnel requirements.
Similar types of human resource jobs exist in the food processing industry as in other sectors. These may include;

  • Human Resource Director/Manager/Generalist/Analyst/Assistant
  • Pay & Benefits Administrator/Specialist
  • Employee Relations Manager
  • Recruiter

Plant Manager

While many site managers have been formally trained, many others have worked their way through the ranks, acquiring skills and becoming knowledgeable about operations over a period of time. Plant Managers plan, organize and oversee operations. The knowledge, skills and abilities required to fill this position include:

  • processing knowledge to oversee operations, and to monitor and report on production
  • technical knowledge to oversee technical operations
  • administration skills in order to prepare computerized reports via spread sheets, for database management, word processing, and utilizing the internet for world wide correspondence and research
  • financial knowledge in order to create and administer budgets and manage inventory
  • communications and public relations skills in order to do site tours, presentations, and news releases and
  • the ability to assume responsibility for the safety and welfare of staff and employees, and the skills necessary for crisis management.


Duties may include; supervise, co-ordinate and schedule the activities of workers who process, package, test and grade food products. 

Processing supervisors perform duties that are unique to their area of expertise. However, most supervisors in this occupational group have the same basic responsibilities. 

This involves establishing methods to meet work schedules and          recommending measures to improve productivity and product quality. It also involves coordinating work activities with other work units and resolving work problems. A Supervisor may specialize in any one of the following areas:

  • Production
  • Shipping and Receiving
  • Cleanup and Sanitation
  • Storage/Packing/Materials
  • Night Supervisor
  • Maintenance
  • Product Development/Quality Management

General Labour

For the most part employers looking to fill general labour positions require a willing, enthusiastic employee. 

There are certifications that will enhance your likelihood of being a successful candidate (WHMIS, First Aid Level 1, FoodSafe Level 1). 

These courses are of short duration (one day or less), and are considered basic knowledge in the industry. 

An employer wants to fill general labour positions with people who are dependable, energetic, communicative and team oriented.

Skills and knowledge that workers and managers in the industry need include:


  • Technical skills specific to the occupation
  • Quality control
  • ISO 9000
  • Good manufacturing practices
  • Merchandising
  • Food safety and handling
  • Quality control
  • ISO 9000
  • Good manufacturing practices
  • Merchandising
  • Computer skills
  • Working with numbers
  • Literacy
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Warehousing and shipping
  • Knowledge of the food processing industry
  • Dealing with the public
  • Marketing/sales
  • Machine operation / mechanical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Statistical process control
  • Public relations
  • Management
  • First aid
  • Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)
  • Stock rotation


  • Manufacturing/processing knowledge
  • Logistics
  • Quality control
  • ISO 9000
  • Employee orientation and training
  • Sanitation
  • Scientific knowledge and skills
  • Food safety and handling
  • Marketing
  • Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)
  • Knowledge of the food processing industry
  • Strategic planning
  • Research and development
  • Exporting
  • Ingredient proportions / recipes
  • Equipment operation/ safety
  • Good manufacturing practices
  • Effective supervision
  • Law
  • Financial management