What Is a Food Merchandiser?

Research what it takes to become a food merchandiser. Learn about the duties of this job, the education requirements and the salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Food Merchandiser?

Food merchandisers are product promoters who specialize in promoting food products and dining establishments. They may design packaging, create displays at grocery stores, organize cooking demonstrations or offer free samples. For restaurants, they may try to drum up interest by organizing social media campaigns or sending out informational flyers or discount coupons. In addition, at merchandising events and demonstrations, they may also directly sell the food products they are promoting. The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Marketing, communication, design, research, nutrition
Key Responsibilities Setting up displays, arranging packages, creating product marketing plans, analyzing consumer trends, purchasing
Job Growth (2014-24) 7% (for all types of wholesale and manufacturer sales representatives); 9% (for all types of demonstrators and product promoters)*
Median Salary (2017) $42,575 (for all types of merchandisers)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Does a Food Merchandiser Do?

A food merchandiser is an expert in packaging and displaying food to make it appealing to consumers. If you took a job in the food merchandising field, you could work for a large food or beverage producer, visiting grocery stores to help promote and place your products. Or you could work in a particular department of a grocery store, such as a produce specialist or meat supervisor. Entry-level merchandising jobs may involve stocking shelves, preparing displays and organizing packages. As an experienced food merchandiser, you may be working on marketing plans, research analysis and purchasing.

How Can I Prepare for this Career?

Food merchandisers should have a love of food and an interest in selling it. If you aspire to be a food merchandiser, you should have good oral and written communication skills and be a good negotiator. You should be comfortable with the physical demands of this position, including being on your feet for long periods of time and lifting items.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

The level of education varies by employer. Some jobs require applicants to have a high school diploma while others prefer a degree. There is an assortment of degree and certificate programs available for people interested in becoming a food merchandiser.

Certificate programs in food service technology may offer food and beverage merchandising coursework, along with training in food preparation and hospitality management. Another option is a certificate program in retail management, which focuses on sales operations and merchandising in retail stores. These programs also examine marketing, accounting, human relations and basic retailing in the food industry. Certificate or related associate's degree programs may be sufficient training for some entry-level food merchandising positions.

For management jobs in food merchandising, you may need to earn a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs in food systems technology with a concentration in food merchandising and distribution may include coursework in nutrition, food packaging, visual merchandising, marketing and consumer behavior. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs include general education coursework as well as internship opportunities.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are looking for a job in the food industry, you could also consider becoming a food service manager. In this position, you would coordinate all operations for a dining establishment like a restaurant, so your duties would range from staff scheduling to budget management to food preparation oversight. Alternatively, if you want to get a marketing-related job, you could think about becoming an advertising sales agent. These professionals sell advertising space in publications and on websites. For either of these positions, you need at least a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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