Looking to consult a food scientist? Here’s an exhaustive guide on everything you need to know before you start hiring.
Food science remains one of the most significant branches of science and technology. The myriad subsets of food science are collectively involved in directly impacting how we consume food, right from studying the structural make-up of food to deciding ways to enhance overall food safety and health aspects. Recent developments in vegan food and non-GMO products has also transformed the way the industry is evolving.
Here’s where qualified food scientists play a major role. With their extensive knowledge of food, life and physical sciences, they help businesses achieve optimized technologies to achieve food production, distribution and storage. If you have a completed product, food scientists can also help you with compliance and regulatory requirements before taking your product to market.
What does a food scientist do? – The Three P’s
Right from harvesting food to distributing it to retail, the food industry is a massive assembly. And, food scientists are the most important piece in the puzzle. They are heavily involved in what can be termed as the three P’s.
Preservation – Food Scientists are involved in the constant intensive study of the food biology, physics and chemistry at a microscopic level, trying to understand how food spoils and deteriorates, and other elemental concepts around food preservation. They then apply their knowledge of various scientific disciplines to prevent this and preserve food longer.
Production – Food Scientists are actively involved at the food production level, devising and formulating new methods of food production that have multiple benefits, such as reducing costs of mass production, improving shelf life or simply creating a higher quality of food. Recipe formulation experts can help with creating new food products or reformulating existing ones for commercial production. Flavor chemists test the chemical properties of specific flavours to make sure they are safe for consumption.
Processing – Food Scientists play a major role in the entire processing supply chain, applying a wide range of scientific disciplines such as biotechnology, health analysis and analytical chemistry in order to devise optimal processing methods. This encompasses everything from modifying raw materials, enhancing food properties and even having a say in ideal distribution methods. Food industry experts advise at every stage of the product cycle including nutrition labelling and food safety.
Why do you need a freelance food scientist?
Most food scientists are employed by large organizations, or consulted through firms for large fees. However, startups and smaller sized companies may also need the expertise of these professionals, and tapping into a freelance network of food scientists might help them save costs and get instant access to these experts.
The transition of the gig economy into the burgeoning expert economy has also seen a number of these experts gravitate towards offering their services on-demand. Here are some of the services they offer,
- Food product formulation
- Food testing
- Consulting on food engineering and processing techniques
- Identifying safe ways of food preservation and food shelf life enhancement
- Flavor chemistry and sensory science
- Food waste recycling
- Consulting on protocols and compliance
Businesses can access this wide range of freelance expertise on an on-demand basis, consult on formulating new recipes and come back to the same expert for re-iteration and processing strategies.
How much does it cost to hire a food scientist?
According to the BLS (Bureau of Labour Statistics), a full time food scientist earns a median salary of around $68,830 per year A consulting firm may charge even higher overall, with fees to get access to good food consultants ranging between $5,000 to $25,000.
Many small companies or independent innovators cannot afford these fees. Here’s where freelancers can help. A quality freelance food scientist can charge anywhere between $100 to $300 per hour, and can be hired in a flexible capacity aligned to your schedule. This helps you cut costs whilst working on testing your food recipe ideas or new production strategies.
How to write a job post for a food scientist
An ideal job post encompasses a variety of factors, right from the precise domain you want the expert to work on, or the chances of re-collaboration during the next stage of the supply chain. However, here are a few standard rules you can follow in order to narrow down and identify a niche food scientist that fits your exact criteria.
Scope of work – Start with a short description of your idea or your existing product, what you need to test or innovate, and the output that’s expected out of the food scientist.
Project duration – Next, specify how long you envisage your project to be ongoing. This will give the expert you hire a clear idea of how much time he/she has to complete the project, and see if they have the hours to devote to it.
Budget – Specify a clear budget range for your project. This will help you avoid redundant proposals, and enable you to only receive relevant proposals from experts that fit your budget.
By when you need to hire – Mentioning an accurate timeline of when you need to hire will help you receive bids from experts that can align with your schedule. For instance, you might need to start the project straight away in which case an expert sending you a proposal to start the project a week from now would be irrelevant. You can avoid this scenario by specifying when you intend to analyse your proposals and kickstart your project.
Skills required – Provide a clear description of the skills, specializations and certifications you expect the food scientist to hold. This will also help you narrow down on the precise subset of food scientists you need, such as recipe formulation, preservation consulting, food processing, additives, chemical analysis etc.
Once you select an expert matching your needs, you can also discuss the terms of conditions of an NDA. Signing this will help ensure that whatever the expert formulates and develops will belong to you, upon successful completion of the project and payment.