While livestock travels the route of the slaughterhouse, crops go a different direction.
Some products, especially fruits and vegetables, are sent to canneries, where they are processed to ensure a long shelve life. Others are destined for food processing plants, where workers either create a single product from a number of crops (like creating a candy bar from cocoa beans, sugar, milk, peanuts, etc) or workers process a single type of crop into a more useful product (like turning wheat into flour). Note that salmon cannery jobs are discussed in detail in the Alaska Jobs section of JobMonkey.
In both cases, workers first receive large batches of a specific crop (or several different types of crops). The ingredients are inspected to ensure that quality is satisfactory, which is done either by hand or by machine, depending on the type of product. Workers then load the food into machines to start the processing system, which is different at every plant, even those producing the same final product for consumers. Often, these processes are highly guarded secrets, and as a worker in food processing, you may be asked to sign a contract where you agree not to share trade secrets, even long after you no longer work with the company.
At canneries, workers send fruits and vegetables (and even meat in some cases) through one of several processes to prevent the food from spoiling and to ensure that the food isn’t contaminated. Some of the most common methods used include pasteurization, boiling, freezing, use of anti-microbial agents, and lose-dosage ionizing radiation. Ingredients may be added or the crops may be altered (for example, tomatoes might be diced), and these processes are typically automated, requiring just a few workers to run the entire factory during each shift. The finished product is then sealed in an airtight container, which is most commonly a can but can also be a bottle, vacuumed package, or other type of container.
In non-cannery food processing plants, more workers may be needed to add ingredients to the mix along the line. It depends on the product the plant is creating, the size of the plant, and whether or not the company wants to produce food with a faster automated process or a more personal handmade process.
In both canneries and other types of food processing plants, many of the workers at the factory are employed to help with packaging. Usually, inspectors check products from every batch, and then employees pack boxes so the food can be shipped to supermarkets across the country or even around the world. Some products, like sugar, are sent to other food processing companies to use as ingredients in the food they make.
Canneries and other food processing plants may also hire truck drivers. Some have their own trucks ranging from smaller trucks that serve the local area to huge tractor trailers that take products on very long drives. Not every plant has it’s own drivers, as some choose to instead work with third-party trucking companies. If you’re interested in the transportation industry, check out the trucking jobs section of JobMonkey’s website.