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Food Biotechnology: Educational, Industrial & Career Prospects
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Numerous times in the last few years, we have heard about recession hitting most of the industries leading to job cuts and unemployment. Considering the regular rise in population, educational awareness and stagnant growth of almost every industry, the situation becomes quite dicey in choosing the field of choice to lay the foundation of your education & career. So, in this article, I have made an effort to throw some light on the bright prospects of the emerging field of Food Biotechnology as a platform for education and career. I’ll discuss industrial case study of SABMiller to bring into focus the success story of now industry giant in the field of Beverages, giving us a good reason to think wisely over the needs of the market and choosing this field.

Industrial Status
IT might fall, Automotive might saturate, Telecom might cease, Electronics might downgrade; but there’s one industry that has consistently developed and will never cease to grow—that’s Food Industry! And, when nobles like Biotechnologists start adding the icing of life sciences’ fundamentals to this field, it is bound to leap high and sky! People knew how to make curd for ages. But when a Biotechnologist brought into picture the real story behind the process, the industry rose crazy with myriad of milk products (Probiotics, Therapeutic yoghurt, hundreds of classes of cheese to name a few). People knew how to make beer/wine since time as old as of Sumerians and Babylonians. But when a Biotechnologist dictated the concept behind the practice, the world went crazy with setting up Breweries in numbers more than cities per state!

SABMiller: Story of Success
SABMiller, world’s leading brewery has it’s story dated back as long as to 1895, when it started selling a very simple beverage popularized as “Small Wonder Beer”, consisting of raw potato spirit mixed with tobacco juice and pepper. The start of the venture was to the capacity of just 50,000 barrels per annum at that time. Bearing the grunt of war induced disruption, the company held strong and by 1911, revolutionized the business thinking by supplying imported seeds of Barley free of cost to the farmers to stimulate the cultivation of the crop, and promising to buy the crop at market price! Understanding the importance of Hops in fermentation, SAB collaborated with rivals to raise the production of Hops. Despite the industry shut down due to world war I, SAB didn’t quit on the business and revived by 1925, only to expand it’s empire further by taking over glass manufacturing companies and hops fields. By 1960, SAB started the era of R&D in developing variety of flavors through research in Viticulture (study and production of grapes). It expanded it’s horizons to food industry by investing in tea and coffee production (another wise step out of realization of world’s routine and growing needs). By 1986, SAB held a grip over the industry of fruit juices too! Catching the nerve of health consciousness of the people and supplying them packaged fruit juices of all varieties in all seasons! There was no turning back after that. Mergers occurred, acquisitions took place, SAB Miller has grown all over the world satisfying 9% of world’s total beverage needs! Just to catch the nerve of you people, let me mention that the very popular Haywards 5000, Royal Challenge, Foster’s Lager, Indus Pride etc are none other than SABMiller’s products.
The following video is both interactive & informational about SABMiller’s way of brewing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV_dnISv7Jk

Educational Prospective:
Food Biotechnology is not just about the beverages and fermentation. There’s a lot in it to learn that can make you realize the possible wonders one can do in this domain. As an aspiring food biotechnologist, your education (a typical Masters degree) would consist of following sub-domains:

[Image: Course_structure_Food_Biotech.png]

In India, following institutes offer high quality programs in Food Technology (not as per rank):
• Anna University-Chennai (Both B.Tech & M.Tech)
• Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur (Both B.Tech & M.Tech)
• IIT Kharagpur (Dual Degree)
• Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi (M.Tech)
• Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology & Science, Allahabad (B.Tech, M.Tech, BSc, MSc)

These institutes expose the students to very nice training periods and practical course contents, with good reputation of placements. (As per experience of people connected in these institutes).

Career Prospective
Though SABMiller’s story should give a clear message that an entrepreneurship idea in this field will never fall back when coupled with determination & innovation, there are plenty of successful players in the market to offer a good job to a good candidate (which are very few in the market; you may find numerous Masters in Biotechnology, but rarely you will strike one with specialized Masters in Food Biotechnology).
Following is the list of prospective job opportunities in this field:
• Quality Control/QC (the most common one)
• Analytical testing (a step ahead of QC)
• Production (the operation handler, working on big reactors, packaging units and sterilizers)
• Research & Development ( many options : Therapeutic research, GMOs, Biopesticides, Biofertilizers, Flavor research etc)
• Marketing

Now, let’s move on to the big names in Indian Food Biotech Industry:

Nestle
Probably the biggest name. Hires Nutrition Officers quite frequently throughout the year.

Britannia
Another big name. First you have to crack a chance to become a trainee there, and then there’s no stopping you to be a recruit.
Check: http://www.britannia.co.in/be_brit_management.htm

Dabur
Quite a household name since years. Plenty of opportunities in marketing.

Pepsico
Another brand very common in the country (rather world). Not easy for Biotechnology people to get in. A good experience of upto 5 years is good to make a mark in this company.

Hindustan Unilever
Bru, Kissan, Taj Mahal are none other than HUL’s products. They keep seeking production engineers and marketing people.

Amul
Another household name indeed. Opportunities are not very common with this company. You can always submit your resume for a consideration at http://www.amul.in/hrm/index.htm

Coca-Cola
A world renowned name. Looks for marketing people and production engineers. More opportunities in Himachal Pradesh’s Baddi area.

FCI
The Indian Govt. Holding. It conducts exam every year to recruit Technical Cadres in different grades. Salary starting around Rs 20,000 pm.

And, the list can go very long if I start counting the names of MNCs and R&D Institutes like Kellogs, KFC, Yakult, IARI, PAU etc.

The important message is that if you go for a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences, choose a specialized field rather than general Biotechnology or Biology. And, if you already have pursued a general Biotech degree in Bachelors, then correct it by pursuing a specialization rather than M.Tech in Biotech. And, in those terms, Food Biotechnology is the hottest field of industrial prospectives and research, especially in a market like India.

So, I hope your food soon inspires you to make a venture out of it, with a tinge of Biotechnology!


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