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Who’s hungry for what: Closing the talent gap in Sustainable Food

Who’s hungry for what: Closing the talent gap in Sustainable Food

Our broken food system poses the single largest threat to human and planetary health – but thankfully, in recent years public and private sector figures have come to realize the enormous potential of food system transformation in addressing major global challenges. In fact, the first ever report to quantify and compare the costs of inaction versus transformation has found that a radical food system overhaul could generate up to $10 trillion in economic benefits per year globally. And while efficient policies can certainly help unlock these benefits, more work needs to be done in building the robust and diverse workforce that will carry this transition forward.

To address the ongoing climate skills gap and talent shortage, Blue Horizon collaborated with Berlin-based Tälist last November to re-launch our jobs board – a dedicated page connecting our ecosystem of over 80+ forward-thinking portfolio companies with the right talent to drive impact and create value. Establishing itself as the biggest global hiring service within the alternative protein industry, Tälist has proven to be the perfect partner in helping us empower careers in the sustainable food system.

The most actively used job board from Tälist

Since its launch, Blue Horizon’s jobs board has become the most actively used external jobs board that Tälist has implemented. With over 394 opportunities listed from 80+ Blue Horizon portfolio companies and non-profit organizations, there is certainly something for everyone. And with 1,530 user sessions already recorded, the jobs board has so far succeeded in uniting individuals and companies with a shared mission of reshaping our food system for the better.

Sales and marketeers – we need you!  

Among these 394 listings, the majority (31%) are targeted at sales and marketing functions. Given recent calls for the sector to rethink the way we communicate with end consumers, it’s no wonder our portfolio companies are investing in marketing and marketeers to bring about the positive and pervasive communication that the category so desperately needs to win over new consumers and unlock demand for sustainable alternatives.

As the industry matures and focuses on scaling breakthrough technologies to help get sustainable products into the hands of mass-market consumers, we see 28% of job listings call on engineering and production functions. Specifically process engineering, automation and quality control will be crucial to ensure efficient and safe production at larger scales, while specialists in facilities design, supply chain management and cold chain logistics are in demand for all the new infrastructure required for production, distribution, and logistics.

Just 14% of jobs call for biology and food science professionals, which does not necessarily reflect the continued focus on R&D and the quest to improve product quality for consumer acceptance on taste and texture.

Jobs by Job Function Category

U.S and Europe are sustainable food hotspots

The U.S. and Europe certainly dominate with respect to job location, with 48% and 47% of all advertised jobs being in these regions, respectively. This indicates the continued focus on food system transformation as a means to address global challenges in these regions, and perhaps stresses the need for other regions, such as Asia-Pacific to play catch-up. Similarly, the U.S and Europe appear to be the top filtered regions by user, and within Europe itself, users predominantly seek positions located in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, UK and the Netherlands. This could simply reflect the higher levels of public awareness around our food system’s damaging socio-environmental impact in these given regions.

Young professionals are hungry for a career in sustainable food

As Barack Obama once said, the youth of today are “the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” It is therefore no surprise that over half (53%) of job board users appear to be graduates or young professionals, with 13%, 19% and 20% of users filtering for internships, entry or junior-level roles, respectively. As we recognize the growing tendency for young professionals to seek ‘jobs with purpose,’ we see more and more young talent turning to the sustainable food system to maximize their personal contribution to positive social-environmental causes. Higher education institutions are also catching on to the growing need for new curricula around sustainable food systems, with many new sustainable agriculture degree programs popping up, as well as collaborations between leading researchers and academic institutions. A great example being The University of California, Davis’s establishment of iCamp (Integrative Center for Alternative Meat and Protein), which brings industry partners, culinary experts and universities together to advance alternative protein technologies, develop workforce and large-scale commercialization.

Considering the appetite for junior-level roles, it’s great to see that our portfolio companies are making good use of this ever-growing talent pool, with 35% of jobs categorized as entry-level.

Food system transformation needs experienced ‘big food’ professionals

While just 13% of users filtered for jobs targeted at a mid-career level, a significant number (34%) filtered for opportunities aimed at senior professionals, leading us to believe that more-experienced professionals are also recognizing this opportunity to leverage their hard-earned skills, knowledge and networks and apply them to new, purpose-driven ventures.

And judging by the seniority levels of jobs being listed on the board, it seems these senior professionals are being welcomed with open arms into sustainable food companies. Since most jobs (39%) listed by our portfolio companies are targeted at senior professionals, we acknowledge the growing need for experienced workers to jump into the space, ideally bringing skills, expertise, and networks from former roles at large food companies to help sustainable food startups innovate, scale and sell as the category enters its maturity.

The world’s first masterclass in alternative proteins

If you too are looking to invest your professional career into making a significant impact in the food industry and beyond, then Tälist’s Masterclass in Alternative Protein Careers is certainly worth a look. The world’s first comprehensive 6-week masterclass in building a career in alternative proteins connects individuals to industry leaders and fellow professionals, such as Blue Horizon Director, Robert Boer, who led the first cohort through an ‘Innovation in Alt Protein’ session. Not only is the masterclass designed to open doors for collaboration and career paths but also equip talents with the skills and experience needed to thrive in this dynamic and purpose-driven sector. Be sure to register your interest in the masterclass and secure a spot in a future cohort.

A match made in heaven

Time is certainly of the essence for sustainable food companies to scale breakthrough green technologies that can drive positive change – which is predominantly why Tälist’s matchmaking service exists to help companies speed up the process of finding top talent, and simultaneously make it easier for candidates to pursue a career in the space. Sign-up and make good use of it!


More on Tälist’s Masterclass here: Masterclass in Alternative Protein Careers (

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