It’s goes without saying that food and drink are important to us, but beyond what we need to survive people invest a lot in enjoying their food and drink. This means there is an enormous number of possible careers available at all stages of the food production cycle, from farm to fork. You could work in a factory preparing food, a butcher shop or bakery selling fresh food or as a chef in a high-end restaurant, devoting immense care and skill to the preparation of meals.
There were approximately 174,800 people employed in accommodation and food services in the final quarter of 2018, this represented 7.7% of national employment. Food and beverage services made up the majority with 124,108 (71%) people working in the space, the remaining employees worked in accommodation, such as hotels or hostels. The sector experienced strong employment growth of 4% between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018, a reduction on the 8% growth between 2016 and 2017. Average pay in food and drink manufacturing in 2017 was 47,000 euro.
The agri-food industry is benefiting from sustained growth in exports, increasing demand for employees. Many food and drink producers are have trouble finding suitable staff, particularly in entry level and general operative positions. Prospects may be dented by Brexit, which the industry is quite exposed to.
Dairy products (30%) and beef (21%) are the dominant export areas. As an island nation it is unsurprising that seafood is a key part of the food industry, with more than 14,000 employed in the area. The Horticulture industry accounts for a smaller proportion of employment, around 1000 in commercial production, but it kicks above it’s weight with an estimated value of 433 million euro in 2017. Teagasc provides training options for those interested in a career in horticulture.
Employment growth was high for Chefs & cooks; while chefs are employed across a variety of sectors, issues in attracting chefs relate to the hospitality sector. Employment permits have been expanded to allow for certain chef occupations. There has been a large increase in chefs available to work in recent but even this has not matched the level of demand.
With consumers developing a taste for a broader range of foods, the market for specialist and artisan producers has expanded.
People who work in this sector are generally very social, engaging in fast paced shift work where they’re on their feet often.
The sector is thriving at all stages of the production cycle, this is creating opportunities whether your chosen career path is farming, food production, becoming a chef or entering wholesale.