There is increasing concern among those working in the UK's food manufacturing industry that not enough young people are considering embarking on a career in the sector.
In a bid to encourage more people to opt for a future in the industry, Bradford-based beverage company Princes has played host to students from the Sheffield College of Applied Engineering to educate them about what working in the food and drink sector involves.
A spokesman for the company said: "The food and drink manufacturing sector is often overlooked by young people and we want to show students that it's in fact leading the way in scientific and technological innovation and provides excellent career opportunities."
Young people studying Mechanical and Electrical Engineering visited Princes' factory last week to discover how materials are transformed into plastic bottles through a variety of processes, including moulding, cooling and thermosetting.
The visit took place ahead of the upcoming launch of Sheffield Hallam University's landmark new degree course in Food Engineering, which will begin in September 2014 and aims to equip students with all the skills they need for a career in food manufacturing. Those currently working in the industry hope this will help to bridge the skills gap the sector is experiencing.
The course is being supported by over 40 major UK companies in the sector, including Princes, Coca-Cola, McCain Foods, Nestle, Premier Foods and Mars. Some of the first to enrol on the degree programme will be eligible for financial support from the Food and Drink Federation.
After the visit, Shabir Nazir, a mentor at the college, said: "Seeing the production challenge first-hand has provided the students with a valuable insight into food and drink manufacturing in action … I'm certain this visit has given our students a taste for food engineering."
Encouragingly, one of the students attending the visit Audrey Chivaura said she would certainly consider a career in the industry following the experience, as it had dispelled a lot of the myths surrounding what working in food manufacturing is like.