Name: Katherine Bermingham
Job title: Senior NPD technologist
Company & location: Florette (Agrial Fresh Produce), Lichfield, Staffordshire
Education: Liverpool John Moores University – BSc (Hons) Food and Nutrition (Registered Associate Nutritionist)
Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? I’ve always been interested in food. I enjoy cooking food and especially eating it! I have a passion for baking and feel at home in a food environment. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and try new foods around the world, which has fuelled my passion, so I always knew I wanted to work in the industry.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): My job involves developing new salad products for brand and own label across retail and foodservice channels.
What does a typical day look like for you? Each working day is different for me, which is why I love the job so much. Some days might be office-based with project meetings, some days involve creative activities such as innovation sessions or creating new salads in the development kitchen, and other days are factory focused, working on new product trials and launches.
And of course, there are those special days: such as when I attended The Grocer New Product & Packaging Awards, representing Florette with my colleagues and being invited on to the stage to receive an award for our Rainbow Crunchy salad.
“I often hear people say ‘isn’t it just leaves in a bag?’ but there’s a whole lot more to a bag of Florette salad than that”
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I completed a one-month placement at Florette in the technical department as part of my final year of university. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and really liked the company and the people that worked there. I had an interest in NPD so spent part of my placement in the department shadowing the NPD technologist on new product trials.
A vacancy was available at the time in the NPD department, so I applied for the job. I had two interviews, the second of which involved developing a new salad product with pricing, shelf life, competitors and target market, which was quite difficult as I’d never done anything like it before, but I must have done enough to impress them!
What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? The people. Working with like-minded food lovers is one of the best parts of the job. The food industry is an exciting, fast paced and innovative environment which I really enjoy working in.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? An appreciation of the size and diversity of the supply chains and operations. For example, bagged salad has several key steps involved to produce a product from field to fork. I often hear people say ‘isn’t it just leaves in a bag?’ but there’s a whole lot more to a bag of Florette salad than that.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? My advice would be if you get the opportunity to do work experience or a placement in the food industry then take it! It opens so many doors for career opportunities and gives you a great insight as to what a career in the food industry is like.
What’s your ultimate career dream? My career dream would be to continue to develop unique, first to market, exciting food products and ultimately develop something that really disrupts the market, goes viral or even kick-starts a new food trend.