Hiring Challenges in The Food Manufacturing Industry: What To Expect in 2024

The food and drink industry significantly impacts the UK economy, contributing £121 billion to the national GVA (gross value added) and employing over four million people, which makes up 14% of our workforce.

However, in recent years, an ageing population, technology, automation and lower net migration have resulted in a limited talent pool, making it more competitive and difficult to recruit.

As the food and drink sector continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing market, recruitment challenges are an important consideration.

Recruitment Challenges For The Food and Drink Manufacturing Industry

An ageing population

The UK has an ageing population.

The 60-74 and 75+ age ranges are forecast to see the fastest growth in the population, rising from 24% of the population in 2018, to 28% of the projected UK population in 2028.

Meanwhile, the proportion of young people (0-29-year olds) in the population is set to fall over the next decade. As such, the proportion of the working-age population will be smaller, making our talent pool smaller and more competitive, creating further challenges for the F&D industry.


Secondly, Brexit has had a considerable effect on the UK food and drink manufacturing sector. The departure from the European Union has led to increased uncertainty and labour shortages as the industry has always relied heavily on EU workers.

The new immigration rules have made it harder for companies to hire and retain EU talent. As a result, there is a growing need for UK-based workers with the right skills and experience to fill these vacancies which, at the moment we are short of.

Automation & Technology

The UK has also invested heavily in developing greener, smarter farming practices, many of which are supported by AI and machine learning technology.

Some of the emerging AI-backed technologies in the agricultural field have seen roles being replaced by the shift towards AI in agriculture.

As the industry increasingly adopts automation and technology to improve efficiency and productivity, some traditional jobs may be lost, and new opportunities for skilled workers who can manage and maintain these automated systems will arise. However, thus far, hiring managers have struggled to attract talent with the right skill sets.

What can we expect to see in 2024?

Changes in our workforce have created a skills gap that hiring managers are struggling to fill. Despite labour challenges, specific sectors within the UK food and drink manufacturing industry are experiencing strong growth, driving demand for talent. Sectors include plant-based, ready meals and health and wellness.

Candidates with technical expertise in food science, product development, quality assurance, and food safety are in high demand which has encouraged employers to upskill their existing workforce and offer apprenticeships.

How to attract top talent in 2024

There has been a labour shortage in the UK for some time now and the F&D industry has had some exceptional challenges. In order to attract and retain the best talent it’s imperative to have a watertight strategy in place. 

Talent attraction strategies are simple however, they must be executed well. If you want to attract skilled workers in 2024 you must start with your employee value proposition. Understanding what sets you apart from your competitors and why prospective candidates would want to work for you is critical.

Areas to consider:

  • Competitive salaries and benefits packages
  • Hybrid and flexible working options
  • Training and development plans
  • Clear progression plans

If you need to attract top talent, we can help!

myinternalrecruiter was created with rapidly growing businesses in mind, if you’re hiring 4 or more people over the course of a year this solution will save you thousands in fees and hiring your own internal team. 

When we partner with businesses we get to know you and your team as if we were being onboarded. We will work from your offices, we use your company email (if you’d like us to), we interview candidates, we do all of the admin and stay with the candidate until after their start date, so to you and to the outside world – we are your internal recruiter.

Watch our founder’s explainer video here.

What makes us different to a traditional agency?

At this point, you might be thinking ‘If you’re an outsourced service, what makes you different to a traditional agency?’

The two main differentiators are how much we charge and the level of service we provide. 

Our subscription model allows us to charge just 2% fees. This means our clients save thousands of pounds compared to traditional agencies and hiring their own internal team.

You will be assigned an account manager who will become your internal recruiter and will work within your business exactly the same way as an internal team.

How much does it cost?

We offer a subscription model of recruitment which allows you to pay a small monthly fee plus, we charge just 2% fees. We are extremely transparent about how much we charge and all of our packages are available on myinternalrecruiter.com.

‘Myinternalrecruiter has streamlined our recruitment process and given us more control. The £10k saving in 3 months is obviously impressive! I do not hesitate recommending myinternalrecruiter.com.’

If you’d like any more information, give us a call on 0113 973 0092.