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As a highschooler, how can I find food science & marketing opportunities?

I am incredibly passionate about vegan food science & marketing. Specifically, in the near future I want to develop a product and put it on a grocery store. I wasn't sure if that was feasible now given the amount of regulations it takes and my age, but I was wondering how you get opportunities as a highschooler?

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Som’s Answer

Hi Karan,
Thank you for taking the initiative and posting your question on this forum - you have already received some great responses. Here are some suggestions:
- Consider writing an opinion piece for your local newspaper on why you are interested in this subject and what can you offer your readers
- Discuss your idea in your local library and consider doing an event where you provide some samples and also talk about your interest and see if you can get some more people interested in your offerings.
- Talk to some professors or students in the Food Sciences, Chemistry or any allied subject area in your local university and ask them about opportunities to serve as a volunteer in their laboratory - this will give you a lot of insights about the many possibilities in this area.
All the best.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Karan,

As per the information from www.iAsk.ai Ask Ai Questions Search Engine, here are some actionable steps to delve into food science and marketing, particularly focusing on vegan food product development as a high school student:

Education: Start by broadening your understanding of food science and marketing. Sign up for advanced high school or online courses in subjects like chemistry, biology, nutrition, business, and marketing. You can also consider dual enrollment programs or online learning platforms such as Coursera or edX for college-level courses.

Networking: Build relationships with professionals in the food industry, especially those who specialize in vegan food science and marketing. Attend industry events, become a member of local food co-ops or associations, and interact with them on social media platforms like LinkedIn. They can offer valuable industry insights and possibly mentorship or internship opportunities.

Internships: Seek internships at food companies, research institutions, or organizations that focus on vegan food science and marketing. These experiences will equip you with practical skills and help you establish a professional network, potentially leading to future job prospects.

Competitions: Engage in local, regional, or national competitions that emphasize food innovation and entrepreneurship. These events can offer a platform to present your ideas and receive feedback from industry professionals and potential investors. For example, consider participating in competitions like the National Young Entrepreneur’s Council (YEC) Food Tank Summit or the Future Food Institute’s FoodTech Challenge.

Start Small: Initiate your product development on a small scale, utilizing resources accessible to you as a high school student. This could involve creating prototypes with home kitchen appliances or teaming up with classmates to formulate a business plan for a school project. This experience will allow you to refine your product idea and get ready for larger-scale production in the future.

Regulations: Stay informed about the regulations concerning food production and labeling that are specific to vegan products in your area or country. Get acquainted with these requirements early to ensure your product complies with all necessary standards. As a teenager, you might encounter additional challenges due to age restrictions on certain business operations.**

Cited References:

National Young Entrepreneur’s Council (YEC) - https://www.yecglobal
Food Tank - https://www.foodtank.com/
Future Food Institute - https://futurefoodinstitute-milanofiori-italyeuropeanunion

God Bless You,
JC.
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Shyam Varan’s Answer

As a high school student, you can kick-start your journey by finding volunteer work and internships, which will help you build a solid foundation in food science and marketing.

Why not volunteer at your local food bank, farmers market, or community kitchen? These places are perfect for learning about food handling, preparation, and maybe even product development and the food packaging industry. Don't hesitate to get in touch with food science professors at nearby culinary institutes or universities. They might have internships or lab shadowing opportunities that you could benefit from.

Also, consider checking out online courses or workshops on food science, marketing, and entrepreneurship. These can provide you with a theoretical understanding of the field. You could even try contacting food companies or startups that focus on vegan products. They might have mentorship programs or internships specifically for high school students.

Remember, building a strong network with professionals in the field can open many doors for you. It can provide you with valuable insights into the industry, which will help you achieve your long-term goals. So, start building your network today!

Shyam Varan recommends the following next steps:

https://discover.escoffier.edu/food-entrepreneurship
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Nikolaos’s Answer

Hi Karan,

First of all, by actively pursuing your dream and asking such targeted and interesting questions, you have already taken your first step toward success. Pursuing vegan food science and marketing as a high school student is not only possible but also highly rewarding. Start by getting involved in the industry. I would advise you to keep studying vegan nutrition, food science, and current market trends by reading books or articles about them. Try joining online communities or attending webinars if you can’t find any local events. Emailing professionals for interviews could be eye-opening, and believe me, people tend to share their insights and suggestions when they see someone is genuinely curious and respectful.

When it comes to products, you can always start by evaluating different recipes in your kitchen. Document them and test them with your family and friends. This experience can be absolutely priceless! How about setting up a blog or social media page where you can narrate your journey and seek wider opinions? I think that not only would it sharpen your advertising skills, but also lay the groundwork for further feedback from people who would directly purchase these products if produced.

Persistence coupled with resilience should never be underestimated because product development may come with many obstacles. Try to see every challenge as an opportunity to learn from mistakes made along the way. Stay committed and driven by passion, and let your enthusiasm infect others around you. Don’t forget that many success stories started from very simple ideas combined with much determination.

I hope this helps!

Best regards,
Nikolas
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John’s Answer

Karan - You are getting a great deal of wonderful things that you can do that may help you focus on your goal which is admirable. I am a Food Scientist who worked in both industry and academia but I primarily worked in the meat and poultry industry and then when I went to universities, I worked for Extension and my role was to be an educator for the poultry processing industry, first in Virginia when I worked at Virginia Tech for 6 years and later I was at the University of Arkansas for just short of 30 years but I had the same role in Arkansas but the poultry industry is much larger there.
One question I have is "do you have a clear idea in mind of what your product is and is there anything like it in a store today?"

Will your product need to be refrigerated? My training is mainly in food safety and microbiology but a food scientist my also know much more. Coming from the meat and poultry industry, food safety is of primary interest because those products can be very problematic if mishandled in any way. Plant-based are not quite as perishable but still you must always know what you are doing with food because if it is nutritious for you it probably will support the growth of bacteria.

You will need to learn about different packaging and how the packaging impacts the shelf life and quality of the product.

Many universities will have pilot plants that may be available for small runs of test products at reasonable prices - the University of Arkansas has facilities where startup food companies such as someone like you, could rent a space for a small sum and make test product or small batches to test your ideas to see if you can even get started. There is a School of Food Science at Washington State University and they have I a decent size pilot plant for making test runs with steam kettles and packaging equipment. They only have about 8 faculty so it is not a large group of faculty but the job titles tell me that they have the right qualifications for what you would need for your project.

My first advice to you is to consider not the product itself, but think about the different types of grocery stores, from very large to very small. When I was at the University of Arkansas, the next county north was the world headquarters Walmart and Sam's Club. Most people dreamed of putting their product into a Walmart; but when Walmart was growing so fast; they outgrew their suppliers and the small ones could not keep up. You must think about if you can supply a small grocer or you want to supply truck loads to Walmart.

I hope you keep up your pursuit of Food Science no matter whatever else you choose. It has certainly been a great career choice for me and I have been many places because of it. People will always need food and feeding people is a good way to make a living.
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Karan !

Wow, what a fabulous career interest you have and you've received some excellent advice thus far from the advisors here. I would also like to contribute so that you may be able to pursue your career interest now while you are in high school.

To begin with, I have a suggestion about broadening your term of the type of food you are interested in developing and marketing. Instead of vegan, I would suggest plant based because vegan is not a description of just food. Vegan is an ideology more than a food type wherein vegans will not eat or use any animal products including leather, wool, cashmere, etc. The word Vegan also implies that ingredients in a food can be synthetic. So the overall term in the food industry science realm is correct by saying plant based. If a person says that they are vegan it is an all encompassing idea, not really a diet or for just food. That being said, you can use whichever term you prefer, but I wanted to offer that as a different way of describing food that is more defined.

The colleges near you that offer a degree in Food Science are in a range between 10 miles to 120 miles from where you live. They are Skagit Valley College, Washington State University in Pullman and Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland. Go to their websites and read their Food Science course catalog to see which subjects they offer. It is also best to see what prerequisites there may be so you can take some classes in high school to prepare.

Something you can easily do while still in high school is to take any Home Economics class that is centered on cooking and baking. This will not only be fun, but you will be assigned to put together dishes and desserts and it will be structured practice for you. I do hope your high school offers a class like this. Another thing that you can do is start cooking and baking at home. You can do this any time and your family will probably appreciate you at the helm making meals and goodies for them. Start with cookies and cakes. You will need to learn how to convert traditional recipes into plant based ingredient recipes and it's not difficult. Information on how to do this is all over the internet. I left one link for you below but there are probably thousands more and you can also use Pinterest to find various charts for this.

Every future opportunity starts with practice. That is why I suggest doing independent hands on cooking and reading a lot of websites before you start college. The internet is a cook and bakers' best friend. Be aware of any possible clubs and activities at school that involve any type of food events. You can even ask one of your teachers if you could start a club or give an event if no one is already doing this at your school. Having this type of extracurricular will be great on your college applications. The key now for you is practice, practice, practice. Don't rush into anything right now. Take it step by step and eventually in college you will learn about the marketing and branding process for what you develop. You will need a financial investment before you can sell food to supermarket buyers. Your product will need packaging and meet all the standards in your country and state. You will also need to pay a production plant to produce your item.

You can ask around at local bakeries and cafes if they would be interested in selling something you bake. You will have to know all of the guidelines for this, though. Start out with food prep and cooking/baking in school and for family and friends and as you move along in college, there may be some doors that will open up for you. Never give up and continually read articles and recipes and practice what you love. You will be off to a great start !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

PLANT BASED INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTES IN TRADITIONAL RECIPES https://www.plantbasedcooking.com/plant-based-recipe-substitutions/
PLANT BASED RECIPES ON PINTEREST https://www.pinterest.com/theplantbasedschool/plant-based-school-recipes/
HOW TO SELL A NEW PRODUCT TO GROCERY STORES https://smallbusiness.chron.com/market-sell-new-food-product-grocery-stores-10795.html
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