WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (FNS) -- Hiring in the food industry is on the rise, according to a survey conducted by Management Recruiters International here.
Of the executives in the food industry surveyed by MRI, 45.7% said they plan to increase their staff, up by 1.4 points from the last six months of 1997. Another 47.6% of the executives said they will keep their current staff sizes, down by 0.6 of a point. And 6.7% said they plan to decrease their staff, down by 0.8 of a point.
Every six months, to predict employment trends, MRI surveys executives who are responsible for hiring.
Mike Jones, general manager for the firm, said the push for better quality in the food industry, which includes retailers, distributors and manufacturers, is driving the hiring growth. More companies in the food industry want to offer fresher foods, which requires stronger distribution systems to deliver inventory in a timely matter. This has created a need to hire people who can do the work, Jones said.
"Being able to find quality people is crucial to a successful company," Jones said.
Even though the grocery industry has been consolidating in recent years, so far its work force has not declined, as it has in other industries, such as banking, that are also consolidating, Jones said.
Although projected hires for executives, professionals and sales people in the food industry have been stable for 18 months, the projections are slightly lower than in other major industries.
The national average for new hires for all 10 industries surveyed is 56.6%, the highest projection recorded in the 16 years the survey has been done. Companies planning to maintain current staff sizes make up 37.1% and those planning to reduce their labor pool comprise 6.3%. The industries that have led in hiring the past few years are pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and transportation.
The strong hiring trends reflect what's happening with the economy, Jones said.
"What you're seeing are a lot of new jobs being created," Jones said. "It's really a candidate-driven market. It will eventually change. Our business goes in cycles."
But since the cycle is at a peak, competition for good employees is tough. Jones said that to attract new hires, companies must put together attractive packages, which means higher pay, more benefits and a good work environment.
"You want to be able to offer candidates something better than they have now," Jones said. "Don't try to cut them short."