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How do salaries and perks in the industry measure up?

Written by: Rod Addy
Published on: 30 May 2019

Food industry workers know that common tropes about it being the poor cousin to other sectors can be exaggerated and there’s nothing like a salary survey to challenge cliches.

For example, recruitment firm MorePeople’s research highlights that more than one in ten respondents on full-time permanent contracts purely in food companies – mainly board directors – say they are paid £100,000 or over.

However, more than a third of those responding – well over the number of directors – claim salaries of more than £50,000. In addition, more than seven in ten reported having a pay rise in the past 12 months.

“The salaries are undersold to people who aren’t in the industry – perhaps part of the problem for generating new blood,” says MorePeople joint managing director Andrew Fitzmaurice.

Still, some survey participants clearly remain unimpressed by the food sector’s offer. “The industry does not pay salaries that attract or retain the best people,” says one.

salary survey charts

Of the technical personnel covered in the survey, the largest single band (a quarter) earn £40,000–£50,000. Just over 47% earn less than £40,000. Given the lack of experienced talent in this area, perhaps there’s an argument for reviewing that.

Another hurdle to the industry seeking to grow technical staff numbers is that almost three-quarters report six or more years of service in the sector, above an already high food industry average. “Does that serve to reinforce some of the challenges we experience,” asks Fitzmaurice, “particularly in technical, where there’s a shortage of good people anyway?”

MorePeople canvassed 600 people in 2018 across buying, sales and marketing, technical and director roles. Disciplines ranging from human resources and operations to supply chain and finance were covered.

Unsurprisingly, directors’ bonuses and perks stand out. More than half of board level staff, of which a third work in food and the vast majority of the rest work in produce and agriculture, claim bonuses of 21% and over. Eight out of ten boast bonuses of at least 10%, against just 12% of those working at all levels in the food sector reaping similar bonuses.

More than eight in ten directors receive car allowances, with 42% claiming £9,000 or over for those. Eight out of ten get health insurance, while six in ten get free car parking spaces. Life insurance is enjoyed by more than half of the directors who responded. Almost three in ten are offered flexible working and more than a quarter get staff discounts.

Despite all the perks cited by the sector, however, arguably the biggest shock is that more than a quarter of food sector respondents think employers aren’t interested in investing in skills, regardless of the constant emphasis on how vital that is. Perhaps it’s this, as much as any other factor, that holds the industry back from reaching its true potential.