A University of Reading professor has teamed up with Sainsbury's to encourage more young people to start a career in food technology after a 25% drop in new recruits.
Professor Christine Williams, a food bio scientist and expert on food and nutrition, advised Sainsbury's in the setting up of the scheme and hopes it will help reverse the sharp decline in newly-qualified food science experts. Food science graduates have halved in the past decade, leaving one in four jobs vacant, according to figures from the Confederation of British Industry.
The scheme - called Taste the World - launched this week and offers qualified foodies the chance to travel the world on a 12-month 'gap year', visiting suppliers and sourcing quality ingredients.
Williams said: "Encouraging graduates to become interested in food technology is crucial to the industry and ultimately the future of Britain's health.
"It seems quite ironic that despite the UK becoming a nation of foodies, there has been a decrease in people wanting to become food experts. We hope this scheme whets their appetite in joining the industry."
Successful graduates will work with suppliers and partners worldwide to learn about what it means to source fresh, safe and tasty food for Sainsbury's.
Liz Jarman, Sainsbury's head of product technology, said: "The last three years has seen a massive turnaround in what supermarkets, and suppliers, are doing to clean up their acts to make food healthier, and to feed the nation. It couldn't be a more exciting time to join the industry. We wanted to come up with an interesting way of attracting the best people to the business as they'll help shape the future of food. Sainsbury's is committed to selling healthy, fresh and tasty food, but we need good quality colleagues to help achieve this for our customers."
To be eligible for the 'Taste the World' scheme, graduates must have a food or science based degree and pass through the Sainsbury's Graduate Assessment Centre and be accepted onto the Sainsbury's graduate scheme as a product technologist.