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Food executives and directors are getting younger, new research shows

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Leadership roles in the food and drink industry are starting to go to younger people. Image: Getty
Leadership roles in the food and drink industry are starting to go to younger people. Image: Getty

Related tags Training & recruitment

Leadership in the food and beverage sector is starting to skew younger, as chief executive and managing director roles are increasingly being filled by millennials, according to new research.

The figures – compiled by Approved Business Finance – used Companies House data and analysed 2,000 founders, chief executives and managing directors of the UK’s biggest businesses across 20 different sectors to reveal the average age for each industry.

Managers and chief executives in the food and beverage sector had an average age of 54 – equal to the average across all sectors covered in the research – but there were some examples of were leadership roles being held by younger people.

Company directors such as Ivo Van Alphen at Coffee firm Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Ivan Siqueira at meat processor Pilgrim’s Pride are the ages of 40 and 47, highlighting that future leadership teams are getting younger.

Millennials climbing the ladder

The research also found that millennials are quickly climbing that career ladder, with more than 50% of young people managing companies before the age of 30. This has been further supported by an increase in asset finance programmes helping young directors get their start-ups off the ground.

Commenting on the research, Approved Business Finance founder Rory Dunn said: “Bridging the gap between older and younger generations could be the key to creating a successful business. In today’s competitive market, organisations need to be innovative to stay ahead of the competition and even within our own team, this has proved beneficial.

“Many young CEOs are demonstrating that there are ways for under-30s to enter what was once considered the domain of their elders and become effective business leaders. By working together, both can learn from each other and build a company that is rewarding for those within the business.”

Outside of the food and drink industry, millennials – people born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s – are increasingly taking on leadership roles.

Under 30s in charge

Gymshark’s Ben Francis and BBC Dragon Steven Bartlett were stand-outs in Approved’s research, while the yearly reveal of Forbes 30 under 30​ highlighted young entrepreneurs such as Natalie Ojevah, vice president of Barclays.

Hayley Smith, communications director at marketing firm Be Yellow added: “It is interesting, but not surprising that we are seeing a rise in young leaders.

“With the rise of YouTube and social media, younger people have gained access to online training, and skill development – opportunities that previous generations didn’t necessarily have access to. They are also learning key innovative and creative skills that they then apply to leadership roles.

“Younger leaders are more likely to challenge the status quo and we have seen on several occasions that young people drive and make permanent change.”

Meanwhile, ​Food Manufacture rounds up the key senior appointments within food and drink,​ which includes Kepak Group and Greencore.

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