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What are the salary expectations for different roles in the food industry?

7 min read
UK pound coin in a food cloche

There is a hugely diverse number of roles within the food industry. At Food Matters Live we are committed to sharing and highlighting opportunities to the network of students and graduates. You’ve heard the term ‘love what you do’, but job satisfaction comes down to multiple criteria, including salary expectations.

Salary expectation, although not the only consideration, is a very important one. The Food Matters Live Podcast series, Career Conversations, features a variety of different roles in the food and drink sector, and offers a realistic outlook of the salaries in these professions.

Take a look through the article below to gain an understanding of what you could be set to make in different roles in the industry. 

Registered nutritionist

Although there are multiple nutrition courses, a registered nutritionist does require a degree. On our first episode of Career Conversations, Elisa Roche spoke to registered nutritionist and Harley Street clinic owner Rhiannon Lambert.

If you would like to know more about what it’s like to work as a registered nutritionist, you can find the episode in full here

Salary expectations

There are many variations in salary depending on where you are in your career. Starting salaries can be between £15,000 and £25,000. After gaining experience, this could increase to anywhere between £50,000 and £80,000. If, like Rhiannon, you were to open your own clinic, the sky’s the limit on what you could earn.

Performance/sports nutritionist

James Morehen spoke to Elisa about what it’s like to work as a performance nutritionist for some of the biggest professional athletes in the world. It’s a competitive but very rewarding field, where an interest in sports is a must.

Find the episode in full here.

Salary expectations

A degree in sports nutrition and further studies like a Master’s degree or PhD are essential for this field, as is relevant work experience. It is also worth deciding if you want to specialise in order to prioritise work in a specific area of sport. For a starting salary, you might be looking at around £21,000, with that increasing to around £55,000 with experience and a good client list. Of course if you end up coaching a high-performing team or an Olympian, this could dramatically increase.

Innovation and New Product Development

A new product developer’s role is to stay on top of food trends and create – you guessed it – new products. This could involve anything from being on the factory floor, to eating in top restaurants, hoping to discover the next big thing. 

If you want to find out more about working in New Product Development, you can listen to the full episode here.

Salary expectations

A junior product development chef or product developer outside of a kitchen is likely to be on about £24,000 or more for large companies’ graduate schemes. This salary goes up to £50,000 a year at a more senior level. And of course, if you become the food product developer for a big food group, we’re talking around £80,000 to £100,000 a year. Routes into it include a degree in food science or nutrition, but research skills and a proven knack for trend forecasting could also help you land that first entry level job.

Consumer Insights

A Consumer Insights Controller helps drive innovation within a company like Greencore by staying on top of consumer trends and shopping habits. This means understanding exactly why we buy the food and drink that we do, and applying that to what we might buy in the future. It is the perfect role for anyone who is curious, but entering the industry with a psychology or social sciences degree can be a beneficial starting point.

Find out more about Consumer Insights in the full episode.

Salary Expectations 

A consumer insights manager can earn £40,000 increasing to £80,000 a year or more if you head up a team within a large company. If you’re interested, have a look at the food marketing graduate schemes available right now at Marks and Spencer, Mintel and Kantar.

Food Stylist

How do you think the food in photographs and videos manages to look so beautiful and delicious? It’s all the hard work of a food stylist behind the scenes. On the episode with food stylist and former Great British Bake Off contestant Benjamina Ebuehi, Elisa learned about what exactly it is that a food stylist does, from preparing the recipe to working on set, and how to launch a career in it. 

Listen to the full episode here.

Salary expectations

As suggested by Benjamina, you should follow lots of food stylists on Instagram and pick a few whose style you admire. When you’re ready, ask to assist on a shoot where you’ll likely be stacking up the dishwasher and packing and unpacking boxes more than doing any cooking at first. Other than travel you might not get paid for the first shoot, but once you prove yourself useful, a food styling assistant can earn about £100 to £250 a day. When you’re ready to shoot on your own you can make £250 to £500 a day or even more.

Head of Sustainability

Dr Emma Keller is Head of Sustainability at Nestlé UK & Ireland and works in a field that is only expanding. There are now multiple graduate schemes that specialise in working within sustainability within the food system, and it’s an exciting sector meaning you can help shape the future of food. 

Find all graduate opportunities and listen to the episode in full here.

Salary expectations

Almost every major food brand now has a head of sustainability, also called a chief sustainability officer. It can take years to get to the top, but the average salary is £55,000 a year going up to well over £100,000 in a big corporation.

Food Lecturer/Course Lead

Ben Christopherson is the Course Lead at the University of West London and a former pastry chef. If you, like him, want to help shape the students’ future and remain within academia, you will have to pursue further study after your bachelor’s degree. Many lecturers also work within the industry, but this is not essential.

Learn about Ben’s journey to becoming a Food Lecturer here and find the full scope of the role in this Green Jobs article.

Salary expectations

According to Prospects, the average salary for a university Lecturer ranges from £33,000 to £49,000 depending on the university and your experience. As you climb the seniority ladder, you’re likely to see an increase in pay. Some heads of department and professors can be paid upwards of £100,000.

Food Technologist 

After studying Food Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University, guest Tessa Anderson has gone on to work for major companies as a food technologist. If you want to work in the industry, but also have an interest in science, it is a fantastic way to combine both areas. 

Find our more about Tessa’s journey here.

Salary Expectations 

The starting salary is around £24,000 but increases year on year with more qualifications and experience, up to between £50,000 and £60,000. Most routes include a degree in food technology, food science or nutrition health, but it’s possible to get in with an arts degree or a higher National Diploma. However, not pursuing any further study might restrict your career progression.


If you’ve ever been interested in learning how to create new flavours, or discovering forgotten ones based on a memory or experience, becoming a flavourist could be an exciting avenue. Global leader in flavour Marie Wright spoke about her experiences in the field and how she got there. 

Hear about Marie’s career journey here.

Salary expectations 

Often a flavourist will need a scientific background such as chemistry, but passion is also key. After this you will need to take part in a lengthy training course, the one at ADM lasts around seven years, after which you will be a fully qualified flavourist. Starting salaries for an entry level role pay around £30,000 a year. As you will often be working in a large company rooted in science, it is likely to have a good pay structure to set you up for the future, with great benefits like pensions schemes. A senior flavourist can earn £100,000 a year or more.


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