Ania - Abel & Cole - Image 3

Name: Ania Gancarz

Age: 30

Job title: Food guardian

Company & location: Abel & Cole, Andover

Education: Diploma in Hotel & Administration in Poland

Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? After I finished my diploma in Poland, I wasn’t sure of what my next steps would be. My brother lived in the UK and I decided to visit and see if I could find a role there. Food distribution is the biggest industry in the UK and offers excellent career prospects so I decided to apply for a role at Abel & Cole.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): My role is to ensure that that food that can’t be sold – such as items that are too bruised or that show any deterioration on arrival at our warehouse – are redistributed, so that not even a single piece is wasted. I share anything that is still delicious to eat between charities (often for use in their food kitchens) and deliver to the people who need those goods the most. At Abel & Cole we also have One Box: One Portion, when we donate a portion of fresh, organic fruit or veg to our food charity partners, for every weekly fruit & veg box we deliver, which has almost reached the milestone of one million portions. Anything that is not suitable for human consumption is sent for animal consumption.

What does a typical day look like for you? At Abel & Cole we want to cut our food waste by 50% by 2030, and have been collaborating with Wrap to better understand and monitor our surplus. We work closely with charities like Dons Local Action Group and The Felix Project to ensure any excess food we can’t sell finds a good home. Every day starts by checking stock and quality of food with our quality control team, making sure I find a place to send any product that can’t be sold before it is unable to be consumed. If I see any signs of deterioration, I grab my phone and call our charities or farmers and arrange a collection – often on the same day.

“I was worried that there may be a language barrier but after a few hours they called me to say I had got the role”

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I was working on the packing line for eight years as a team leader at Abel & Cole and I wanted to develop my role. When I saw this role I applied straight away because I felt ready for a new challenge and it was the perfect opportunity to help other people and to be involved in helping to grow our sustainability initiatives.

There were two qualifying stages (which I didn’t realise when I applied) and the first was via Teams with our head of sustainability and our amazing Wimbledon chef, Paul, who had been overseeing the role for a few months. I was happy at how the first interview had gone but I hadn’t realised that there would be a second round! It was the first formal interview process that I had been through and I was worried that there may be a language barrier but after a few hours they called me to say I had got the role. I couldn’t believe it and I am so glad I got the chance to do this role as I can honestly say I love my job.

What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? The ability to develop lots of different skills: creativity, logical thinking, teamwork and leadership. There is also a lot of room to chop and change your career in the industry, as there are many different jobs to choose from at many different levels. There are plenty of great opportunities for anyone who wants to progress.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? The biggest misconception I heard before I started working in food and drink was that companies needed to use additives to flavour food, enhance its colour or include chemicals in packaging. Our company showed me that’s completely not true and not all packaging has to be plastic.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? I would tell them not to be afraid to apply for a job in the food industry because it is a great opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and get lots of qualifications. If you choose wisely, there are plenty of food companies doing very good things for the environment, animals and society. Working for one of them will pay back.

What’s your ultimate career dream? It would be to make a positive impact on people every day through my role.