The Food Industry employs approximately 1 500 000 people. It is the second largest employer in South Africa, and has an annual turnover in excess of R20 billion. Technical leadership and brainpower in this industry is, and will have to continue to be provided by food scientists and technologists presently available and by those to be educated in the future.
Food production demands a wide spectrum of expertise for the successful processing of safe and wholesome foods. Experts specialise in areas such as: baking; brewing; canning and bottling; dairy; oils and fats; fish, meat and poultry processing; cereal milling and processing; preserves; pickled foods; soft drinks, wine, beer, cider, spirits and other beverages; spices and flavourings; sugar confectionery; tea and coffee; irradiation and packaging.
It is obvious that no academic or technical training can familiarise students with such a wide range of topics. Training is therefore geared to first address the basic principles common to all, thus opening up the possibility of specialising later. There are two streams of education available at present in South Africa, i.e. Food Science degrees at certain Universities and Food Technology diplomas at others.