Written by Joanna Hughes

So you’re a foodie who loves a great wine pairing? Sure, it’s a fun hobby, but (ahem) wine not turn it into something else? A career! The food and wine industry is ripe with delicious opportunities. Here’s a closer look at three reasons to study and work in this fascinating area.

1. The food and wine industries are massive -- and growing.

Times change and trends come and go, but one thing remains a certainty: people need to eat. Factor in the desire to eat well, and it’s hardly a surprise that the food and wine industry is thriving. In fact, according to market analysis from ReportLinker, the global food and beverages market was estimated to be more than $5650 billion as of 2017.

The soaring global wine market is helping to drive this growth. Valued at roughly $302 billion in 2017, it’s expected to grow to over $423 billion by the end of 2023.

One segment of the wine industry identified for its growth potential and included in the roundup of Inc.’s hottest sectors for launching a business in 2018 is canned wine. “While the product inside hasn't changed, the new packaging is attracting young consumers to the wine scene. The convenience of canned wine particularly appeals to Millennial buyers who want a single-serve beverage they can take on the go. Cans are lighter than bottles and easier to disguise when drinking in public settings. What's more, outdoor spaces like music festivals tend to prohibit glass bottles for safety reasons,” said Inc.. Total US sales for canned wine increased from $3.3 million in 2014 to $32.3 million in 2017, and are expected to continue to rise.

It follows that food and wine are big business in many countries. Take the UK, for example. Not only is food and drink the country’s biggest manufacturing sector (larger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined), but it employs more than 450,000 people and contributes £31.1 billion to the economy annually, according to the Food & Drink Federation.  Meanwhile, the entire food supply chain employs more than four million people while generating more than £121 billion in added value for the economy each year. The Food & Drink Federation also predicts a need for the addition of 140,000 workers to the industry by the year 2024 with the anticipated top three opportunities for food and drink manufacturers in the UK being domestic demand, healthy food products, and investment.

2. There are many exciting and lucrative careers waiting.

Within the wine business, there are a variety of industry sectors and related roles across commercial, service and production aspects. These include winery jobs, grower/vineyard management jobs, retailer and broker jobs, distributor and importer jobs, and restaurant and hospitality jobs, as Wine Folly explains.

Wine expert Jill Barth recently highlighted six now-hiring wine jobs, including wine marketer and supply and distribution careers. “Supplier and distributor jobs are available across the country, perfect if you don't live near a winery. These jobs get wine into the hands of the industries that sell them to consumers -- think restaurants, hotels and retail shops. Individuals that have wine knowledge, like to travel (often by car, around one's own region) and employ excellent analytic and negotiating skills find success in this field. If you are organized, outgoing and motivated by sales goals look for territory openings in your state or metropolitan area,” says Barth of this career path.

If you are thinking of making the leap to food and wine from another sector, meanwhile, don’t underestimate crossover skills and experience. As wine is about sales and service as well as taste, a commercial background will be very beneficial your resume.

Opportunities are waiting in food, as well as wine. In addition to the usual suspects, Thrillist’s list of “insanely cool food jobs” includes appliance and technology, and online specialty foods, research and development, communications and brand building, and event planning.  

3. You’ll get to work with what you love.

The average person spends just over 13 years of their life at work, according to analysis by HuffPost Australia. Why not spend it doing what you love?

Patricia Stefanowicz MW, who runs a London wine consultancy, told Decanter of her pathway into the industry, “‘I was an architect designing hospitals for a large firm in the US when I was asked to manage a project to convert a barn into a winery in California. I fell in love with the idea of making wine. So I took a sabbatical and took a course in viticulture. When my husband and I moved to England I started working for a wine importer. Now I help small family-owned vineyards with their harvests and fermentation, teach wine studies at an agricultural college, and broke deals between importers and buyers. I love the variety and flexibility of my job. I’m very lucky.”

If you love wine, food and travel, there’s plenty of chances for that, too. Fiona Barlow MW, sales director of wine supplier Bottle Green Ltd., trained as a teacher, before deciding “dealing with bottles of wine would be more interesting than dealing with children.” She then joined Bottle Green four years ago and is now responsible for its global sales. She says, “I work with supermarket buyers to select wines and make blends and also to plan winemaking projects. I love the challenge of being able to work out a plan to satisfy customers’ needs. And I love seeing the bottles flying off the shelves and knowing they are there because of a germ of an idea I had. I travel abroad six to eight times a year.”

Food and wine careers are so uniquely fulfilling, in fact, that once people get into the business, they are unlikely to leave!

Are You Ready to Fast-Track Your Food and Wine Career?

Now, if you’re sold you on a career in food and wine, you may be wondering how to turn this dream into a reality. This is where the Food and Wine track of Bologna Business School’s (BBS) Global MBA comes in. In addition to gaining a solid foundation in the major business disciplines during the 12-month program, students gain knowledge of the most successful Italian enterprises, as well as hands-on learning experiences from everyone from top-class chefs to wine producers to international managers -- all while following their own passion for food and wine.

Concerned about the cost of going back to school? Not only are all admitted candidates eligible for student honor loans, but BBS also offers partial and full merit scholarships ranging between €10,000 and €35,000 thanks to its business network. Citizens of African countries, meanwhile, can apply for full scholarships dedicated to the social and economic development of the continent.

Participants also gain access to BBS’s Career Development Department, which is dedicated to career exploration and fulfillment, and provides critical partnerships during the job-seeking process.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Instead, why not hear it directly from BBS graduates? Gruppo Mezzacorona’s assistant marketing manager, Deanna D’alfonso, says, “There is nothing quite like the education offered at Bologna Business School. The constant global immersion as you interact with students from all over the world, facing challenges together while acquiring new skills and approaches to business is unprecedented. Today, I have a better perspective that I always yearned for in launching my career in the wine industry, thanks to the structure and team at BBS.”

Vinitaly International project manager Lan Liu says, “My experience at BBS has reshaped my lifestyle and helped me achieve balance between my long-term career development and my everyday life. Fascinated by minds of scholars and colleagues from every corner of the world in class, I was equally inspired by the food and street musicians off class. A special bonus: I now speak Italian. La vita è veramente bella a Bologna!”

American chef and TV personality Julia Child once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” If the idea of surrounding yourself with the best people while doing something you love appeals to you, then a career in food and wine may be a perfect fit, and BBS’ Global MBA in Food and Wine can offer an invaluable inside edge!

Bologna Business School
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Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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