Sector Spotlight: Business Opportunities in the Food Sector

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food jobs

In this article we shine a spotlight on the food sector and some of the top business opportunities it offers. By the end you should have a better idea of your options when it comes to making a living in the lucrative and diverse industry.


For budding entrepreneurs, the food industry is a remarkably tempting proposition. We spend £230 billion on food and drink in the UK each year (great.gov.uk). Over 450,000 people are employed within the food sector and there are around 10,000 businesses in operation. Food is such a vast industry that it’s the largest manufacturing sub-sector in the UK, dwarfing aerospace and automotive combined. Research has also found that 140,000 new recruits will be needed by 2024 to feed the growing population. Had time to digest those statistics? Let’s explore the food sector in more depth and explore what kind of business you might want to start.

The different areas of the food sector

In the UK and across the globe, the food industry is a very varied sector. Let’s break it right down and consider the different subsectors that come under the larger food sector umbrella.

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Agriculture
  3. Food processing
  4. Wholesale and food distribution
  5. Marketing
  6. Foodservice
  7. Regulation
  8. Grocery
  9. Education
  10. Financial services
  11. Research and development

As you can see, the food sector is complex and involves many diverse businesses. There are job opportunities in every corner of the food sector, but when it comes to starting your own business you need to choose the area that you’re the most passionate about and that can fulfil your long term entrepreneurial goals.

Future trends of the food sector

1. Supermarkets merging with digital takeaway businesses.

Customers are always looking for the most convenient option so they have more free time to spend how they like. Imagine being able to have your milk for tomorrow morning also dropped off with your takeaway pizza. Experts believe that there could be a digital service that holds all of the information about your shopping and eating habits, made possible by the merging of takeaway businesses with major grocers.

2. Online shopping businesses will emphasise their environmental considerations.

In the coming years, climate change will become an even more pressing concern of consumers. Therefore, online retailers will need to provide reassurance and demonstrate the environmental initiatives they have come up with.

3. A rise in targeted health claims in food

In the past few years there has been a surge in the number of customers that want to change their eating habits and buy products that can help improve their sleep, energy or productivity. It’s predicted that in the next five years, the mobile tracking market will hit £27 billion. So, it’s likely that food businesses will put even more emphasis on the health benefits of buying a certain food product.



Franchise opportunities in the food sector

The food industry – particularly the fast food sector – has benefitted from a long association with franchising. Many of the world’s biggest food brands, like McDonald’s for example, have utilised the franchise system to build global empires and bring their products to people in diverse countries all across the planet. When you think of the most popular names in food, you’re probably thinking of businesses that have thrived due to the franchise model.

However, franchising has also been responsible for the spread of many types of food jobs and businesses besides fast food restaurants. In recent years, upmarket brands that focus on a more luxurious dining experience have prospered by adopting a franchise structure. Likewise, food distribution companies are also experiencing a great deal of success due to this unique means of business expansion.



Types of business opportunities in the food sector

Though the franchise model cannot be applied to all food businesses (for instance, farming and other forms of traditional food production do not lend themselves well to franchising), the system is utilised throughout much of the industry. This includes:

  • Restaurants – Whether it’s fast food or fine dining, franchising has been at the heart of the restaurant industry for a considerable amount of time. It’s fair to say that UK consumers would not have the kind of choice they enjoy today were it not for franchising.
  • Delivery – There’s a growing trend for organic farming operations to franchise their distribution networks. Franchises like Wiltshire Farm Foods and Riverside have had a great deal of success building their operations in this way.
  • Vending – Many UK franchises specialise in vending services and that focus on providing retailers with EPOS displays or fitting machines in suitable locations.
  • Food trucksFood trucks have achieved widespread success in the US and Australia, and the UK is finally catching up.

Franchising allows individuals to fit out their van quickly and to generate business by adopting an established brand identity.

What area of the food sector is most profitable?

There is no definite answer to this question as it depends on a number of different factors. However, it is widely considered that fast-casual restaurants are the most lucrative type of food business.

Fast-casual restaurants tend to have a higher profit margin and cost less to operate than a full-service restaurant. Fine dining restaurants with a more luxurious menu offering may not make as much money because their ingredients are so much more expensive.

Nowadays, customers are demanding high-quality food that’s locally sourced, fast and pleasant service, restaurant-quality food without having to sit and wait, healthy options, to be able to customise their meals etc… The industry that can achieve all of these most easily whilst maintaining profitability is fast-casual restaurants.

Consider starting a franchise in the food sector

If you’re looking to get into the food sector, franchising presents a unique opportunity. Though there's enormous variety, there are many franchises that offer fantastic returns on your investment that can probably be considered the best in the industry. You can start browsing on the food franchises section of our website.

>> Read more articles on the Food and Beverage sector

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