It’s not just Brexit that is having a negative impact on the food and drink sector, it’s also the industry’s perception – for many it’s just too smelly or too sticky! However, what many fail to recognise is that the sector has a multitude of highly skilled career pathways that offer job satisfaction, rapid progression and great salaries. To demonstrate this, Pembrokeshire College, in partnership with Ysgol Dewi Sant, set about creating a four-day initiative to bring various food production careers to the forefront during the school’s Sustainable Week.
A group of 21 Year 8 pupils were set a challenging new product development brief to create an allergen free ice-cream using sustainable ingredients, such as Carob instead of Chocolate and Hemp Milk instead of milk. Cardiff Metropolitan graduate Leah Ferris, devised the recipes, and was supported by local ice-cream entrepreneur Margo Evans from Lochmyler Ice-cream, near St David’s.
The group developed their brand name and image as well as ensuring the packaging and labelling met with current EU legislation. Rhian Jones and Mark Jones, both professional food technologists from Food Centre Wales, rigorously put the teams’ taste buds to the test with a sensory analysis, which involved (much to their amusement), smelly haddock, and put their own products through a taste-testing panel. Teams competed against each other for Best Brand, Best Flavour and Best Team Work, the latter proved to be the most challenging, as the pupils were under time constraints with the intense schedule and the sweltering heat causing team nerves to fray!
‘The teams delivered outstanding performances, YDS have a lot to be proud of. At the start of the initiative we asked how many pupils wanted to work in food, a few hands – at the end, over half the room showed their hands, that said it all to me,” Project Manager, Hayley Williams
The initiative, which is supported by the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone, culminated in team presentations and a Q & A session to an industry panel – Lochmyler Ice-cream, Capestone Organic, Puffin Produce, Food Centre Wales.
“The pupils did fantastically well presenting their work and questions. It’s great to see them engaging with careers in food and great for us to experience it!” Puffin Produce Technical Manager, Zoe Stapleton.