The food manufacturing industry employs many different types of workers. More than half are production workers, including skilled precision workers and less-skilled machine operators and laborers. Production jobs require manual dexterity, good hand-eye coordination, and in some sectors of the industry, strength.
Red meat production is the most labor-intensive food-processing operation. Animals are not uniform in size, and slaughterers and meatpackers must slaughter, skin, eviscerate, and cut each carcass into large pieces. They usually do this work by hand, using large, heavy power saws. They also clean and salt hides and make sausage. Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers use handtools to break down the large primary cuts into smaller sizes for shipment to wholesalers and retailers. They use knives and other handtools to eviscerate, split, and bone chickens and turkeys.
Bakers mix and bake ingredients according to recipes to produce breads, cakes, pastries, and other goods. Bakers produce goods in large quantities, using mixing machines, ovens, and other equipment.
Many food manufacturing workers use their hands or small handtools to do their jobs. Cannery workers perform a variety of routine tasks-such as sorting, grading, washing, trimming, peeling, or slicing-in the canning, freezing, or packing of food products. Hand food decorators apply artistic touches to prepared foods. Candy molders and marzipan shapers form sweets into fancy shapes by hand.
With increasing levels of automation in the food manufacturing industry, a growing number of workers operate machines. For example, food batchmakers operate equipment that mixes, blends, or cooks ingredients used in manufacturing various foods, such as cheese, candy, honey, and tomato sauce. Dairy-processing equipment operators process milk, cream, cheese, and other dairy products. Cutting and slicing machine operators slice bacon, bread, cheese, and other foods. Mixing and blending machine operators produce dough batters, fruit juices, or spices. Crushing and grinding machine operators turn raw grains into cereals, flour, and other milled-grain products, and they produce oils from nuts or seeds. Extruding and forming machine operators produce molded food and candy, and casing finishers and stuffers make sausage links and similar products. Bottle packers and bottle fillers operate machines that fill bottles and jars with preserves, pickles, and other foodstuffs.
Food cooking machine operators and tenders steam, deep fry, boil, or pressure cook meats, grains, sugar, cheese, or vegetables. Food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders operate equipment that roasts grains, nuts, or coffee beans, and tend ovens, kilns, dryers, and other equipment that removes moisture from macaroni, coffee beans, cocoa, and grain. Baking equipment operators tend ovens that bake bread, pastries, and other products. Some foods-ice cream, frozen specialties, and meat, for example-are placed in freezers or refrigerators by cooling and freezing equipment operators. Other workers tend machines and equipment that clean and wash food or food-processing equipment. Some machine operators also clean and maintain machines and perform other duties such as checking the weight of foods.
Many other workers are needed to keep food manufacturing plants and equipment in good working order. Industrial machinery mechanics repair and maintain production machines and equipment. Maintenance repairers perform routine machinery maintenance, such as changing and lubricating parts. Specialized mechanics include heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics, farm equipment mechanics, and diesel engine specialists.
Still other workers directly oversee the quality of the work and of final products. Supervisors direct the activities of production workers. Graders and sorters of agricultural products, production inspectors, and quality control technicians evaluate foodstuffs before, during, or after processing.
Food may spoil if not properly packaged and promptly delivered, so packaging and transportation employees play a vital role in the industry. Among these are freight, stock, and material movers, who manually move materials; hand packers and packagers, who pack bottles and other items as they come off the production line; and machine feeders and offbearers, who feed materials into machines and remove goods from the end of the production line. Industrial truck and tractor operators drive gasoline or electric-powered vehicles equipped with forklifts, elevated platforms, or trailer hitches to move goods around a storage facility. Truck drivers transport and deliver livestock, materials, or merchandise, and may load and unload trucks. Driver/sales workers drive company vehicles over established routes to deliver and sell goods, such as bakery items, beverages, and vending machine products.
The food manufacturing industry also employs a variety of managerial and professional workers. Managers include top executives, who make policy decisions; industrial production managers, who organize, direct, and control the operation of the manufacturing plant; and advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers, who direct advertising, sales promotion, and community relations programs.
Engineers, scientists, and technicians are becoming increasingly important as the food manufacturing industry implements new automation. These workers include industrial engineers,who plan equipment layout and workflow in manufacturing plants, emphasizing efficiency and safety. Also, mechanical engineers plan, design, and oversee the installation of tools, equipment, and machines. Chemists perform tests to develop new products and maintain quality of existing products. Computer programmers and systems analysts develop computer systems and programs to support management and scientific research. Food scientists and technologists work in research laboratories or on production lines to develop new products, test current ones, and control food quality.
Finally, many sales workers, including sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, are needed to sell the manufactured goods to wholesale and retail establishments. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, and procurement clerks keep track of the food products going into and out of the plant. Janitors and cleaners keep buildings clean and orderly.