Agriculture Careers From A Different Angle: Processing, Regulation, Distribution And Innovation


It may not cross our minds very often, but agriculture is the common denominator for all plant, animal and human life.

Naturally, keeping the industry alive involves more than planting seeds and herding cattle, especially now that we’ve come a long way from relying on our backyards for our main source of food.

Along with the various processes that produce the food filling the aisles of grocery stores and the kitchens of restaurants the world over, Canada’s agri-food industry prides itself on innovation, devising the most efficient ways to bring food to each table without sacrificing safety, quality and health.

Championing forward-thinking ways of caring for the environment, the industry also prioritizes the production and usage of biomass and bio-fuels as renewable alternatives to petroleum.

Imagining the possibilities? Here are a few occupational ideas to get you started:

Agriculture jobs: Processed food and beverages

Mention processed food, and chances are the candy, pop and cereal aisles immediately come to mind. But products like beer, pre-packaged fruits and veggies, wine, seafood—even beef—are all part of an industry which not only contributes greatly to local food availability, but strengthens the global export market for Canadian goods as well.

The food processing industry makes full use of Canada’s high-quality ingredients in its products, capitalizing on strong worldwide demand from consumers for food that offers innovation and convenience without sacrificing nutrition. In fact, much of the world’s organic, kosher, and halal-certified drinks, snacks and meat originate from our shores as a result of clean, natural farming environments and strict, government-enforced health, safety and quality regulations.

Occupations in food processing include:

  • Workers who process raw food products into finished goods, such as Bakers, Machine Operators, Winemakers, Butchers, Meat Packers, and Food Batchmakers
  • Production Supervisor: Oversees plant operations, trains personnel in processing and packaging products, ensures safe working conditions for employees
  • Quality Control Technician: Checks that manufacturing machinery is working correctly and effectively, makes sure quality and sanitation standards are met at all times
  • Product Development Technician: Formulates new products from initial concept to full production, conducts initial plant trials, evaluates consumer response to the product


Agriculture jobs: Food regulation

Imagine a world without nutrition facts, ingredients lists, or bans on hazardous chemical additives. Sound medieval?

That’s because it is. Without the food regulatory industry, our lack of knowledge about nutritional value, food handling and preparation, and the unregulated usage of man-made, “food-safe” toxins would put our collective health at constant, serious risk.

Fortunately, legislation like the Food and Drugs Act exists to uphold the safety and nutritional merit of food and medicine, ensuring that each item holding space on store shelves, restaurant menus and cupboards all across the country passes strict regulations and tests for quality, safety and effectiveness.

Many of those working in food regulation occupy these roles:

  • Food Safety and Quality Technician: Ensures compliance to government food regulations and the company’s food and work safety programs and procedures
  • Food Regulatory Consultant: Navigates the scientific and regulatory requirements products must meet in order to be marketed to the public
  • Food Scientists or Technologist: Provides accurate nutritional information for food labelling, tests the safety and quality of food, develops recipes using newly-discovered ingredients, modifies foods (such as creating fat-free varieties)


Agriculture jobs: Food distribution

There’s retail, and then there’s food retail.

Made up of supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, fast food operations and the wholesalers and distributors that supply them, the food distribution sector is the defining link in the food supply chain, connecting the producers and processors down to the consumers.

Because this sector directly engages the consumer, it plays a crucial role in determining up-and-coming food trends as well as identifying public concerns about food safety, innovation, quality, value, and convenience. More importantly, this sector is a constant source of jobs, employing over 1.4 million people and accounting for 4% of Canada’s total GDP, posting consumer sales of $131 billion in 2005 alone.

Some food distribution jobs you can consider:

  • Logistics Supervisor: Oversees distribution of goods from warehouse to final destination, trains logistics team to run secure, safe and efficient deliveries, keeps tabs on product inventories
  • Food Products Sales Representative: Prepares catalogues of items, creates sales pitches for products, conducts sales transactions, studies the target market and current trends
  • Food Market Analyst: Gathers market intelligence from consumers about the company’s products, presents findings and results to interested parties in a clear, comprehensive and compelling manner


Agriculture jobs: Biomass and bio-fuels

Bio-fuels (e.g., biodiesel, ethanol, methanol) function similarly to their petroleum-based counterparts but are derived from natural ingredients called biomass. Biomass refers to living biological material, such as plant matter, that can be processed into bio-fuels or used as input into other consumer products such as linens and construction materials.

Putting bio-fuels into mass production would mean less oil drilling and the creation of more sustainable, earth-friendly alternatives to conventional oil and gas. In addition, biomass is mostly cultivated in rural areas, which is a great boon to the farming industry and could lend some diversification to the rural economy.

Biomass and bio-fuels jobs include:

  • Alternative Fuel Scientist: Conducts detailed research into the composition, benefits, drawbacks, and usage of different kinds of bio-fuels, with the goal of reducing or replacing the need for petroleum
  • Environmental Specialist: Analyzes a company’s environmental risks and obligations, develops innovative solutions to meet any changes to environmental regulations, facilitates employee training regarding environmental issues
  • Bio-fuel Procurement Manager: Evaluates and selects new suppliers for bio-fuel sourcing, verifies quality of bio-fuels purchased, takes charge of warehouse and stock management, coordinates delivery schedules to ensure consistent bio-fuel supply
  • Bio-fuel Manufacturing Research Engineer: Select, test, and recommend equipment and process improvement for the production of corn to ethanol


Think an Agriculture career means being a farmer? Think again.
Visit our Agriculture Career Guide for eggs-clusive jobs and career resources to help you hatch your career in the Agriculture industry!


Photo credit: Pharmacy and Nutrition Lab by Stobbe Photography / David Stobbe via University of Saskatchewan on Flickr
About the author

Jeleen Yu is a long-time TalentEgg contributor and former assistant editor. She graduated from Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) in 2007 with a degree in business management. She was all set to start a career in the corporate world, but a sabbatical made her realize that her real passion lay in writing and the publishing industry. After serving as a writer and editor for the newsletter of a non-profit organization in the Philippines, she now resides in Vancouver and is currently working towards an editing certificate at Simon Fraser University.