Academics

FMI and University Analysis Reveals Recruitment Strategies for Gen Z

Young man working with female colleague

FMI—The Food Industry Association, and Saint Joseph’s University released Workforce Attractiveness in the Food Industry: How to Recruit Gen Z, the first in a three-part Gerald E. Peck Fellowship research series that explores workforce attractiveness in the food retail industry. Presented at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference by Ernest Baskin, Ph.D., Gerald E. Peck Fellow and assistant professor of food marketing in the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, this report demonstrates that the food industry, particularly the food retail segment, has an opportunity to showcase the variety of career options available to Gen Z.

“Gen Z, including anyone born after 1997, makes up about 23% of the U.S. population,” Baskin said. “As a generation, Gen Z is starting to contribute to the economy by becoming a bigger share of the workforce and it is important to understand their unique characteristics so the food industry can better attract talent to all business areas.”  

Through qualitative interviews with both food industry executives and Gen Zers, the report finds an opportunity for the food industry to better showcase the diverse career opportunities offered in food retail. With a focus on making a difference, an integration with technology, and a desire for workplace diversity, Gen Z individuals are poised to strengthen the food industry with their unique characteristics.

“Our industry is rich with stories of individuals who began their careers as grocery baggers and worked their way up the ranks to the C-suite, but when we ask Gen Z about the prospect of working in the food retail industry, many are either unaware or have an incomplete picture of the varied career paths available in this essential sector of the economy,” shared Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI. “The supermarket workers who feed families and enrich lives in our nation possess a wide variety of skills and Gen Zers can choose among multiple career paths; from technology innovation to data analysis; from supply chain expertise to customer service excellence. This report offers the food industry an opportunity to showcase the variety of career options available to Gen Z.”

The report outlines key recommendations for food retailers to more successfully recruit Gen Z including by offering development programs; presenting high salaries and quick promotions; showcasing the variety of career options available; highlighting company culture; and identifying the myriad ways food retailers contribute to communities. Download a copy of the report at www.FMI.org/GenZ.

Funding for the Peck Fellowship and this project is made possible by the Academy of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University. The fellowship is awarded in three-year increments, alternating between the International Foodservice Distributor Association (IFDA) and FMI. The association and institute partner with a Saint Joseph's food marketing faculty member to conduct timely research on the food and retail industry. The Academy of Food Marketing supports and maintains critical links between the food and retail industry, the University’s food marketing department and the program's students, offering scholarships, industry-focused events and cooperative education opportunities.