Food science programs in the United States mainly evolved from dairy manufacturing (science) programs. The discipline emerged to including not only dairy science, but also meat science, cereal science, seafood science, and the study of fruit and vegetable products.

The food industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States, employing about 2 million people with an additional 14 million being employed in other food-related fields. Based on the dollar value of products shipped, the food processing industry is the largest in the United States contributing more than $350 billion to the gross national product. The enormous size of the industry and its need for professional scientists make it possible to find a wide variety of satisfying careers.

The food industry is growing steadily as the consumer demands for convenient, safe and nutritious food/beverages increase. This growth is evident by the 70,000 new food products that were introduced in the 1980s and the more than 170,000 new food products predicated to be introduced between 1990 and 2000. This increase in consumer demands for greater varieties of nutritious and convenience foods of uniformly high quality along with an increased emphasis on food safety and the use of new energy- and cost efficient technologies in the processing of foods are creating many varied career opportunities in the food and allied industries.

Employment with a Bachelor degree in Food Science includes positions with food and allied industries, government and independent research institutions. Employment can be found with companies that manufacture retail food products as well as companies supporting food manufactures by supplying food ingredients, processing equipment and packaging materials, or providing services related to institutional feeding. Technical and administrative position are also available in various government agencies and with independent testing laboratories. Food science graduates hold teaching, research and extension positions with colleges and universities. Governmental agencies employ food scientists whose work is directed towards research, regulatory control and the development of food standards.

The role of the food scientist in such positions may involve management, process supervision, production and process development, quality control/quality assurance, technical services and sales, procurement, distribution, marketing, advertising, merchandising, public health and regulatory service, basic and applied research, consulting, government food inspection, trade association activities, and promotional and educational services.

University of Kentucky food scientists have found employment throughout the United States and in several other countries.

WHAT ARE SALARIES LIKE? Because of the constant need for qualified food scientists, salaries are generally equal to or higher than those of other professions requiring equivalent levels of education. From a recent survey of Food Scientists with a B.S. degree, mean annual salaries were $75,000. Mean starting salaries were $45,000.