What Are the Best Careers in the CPG Industry?

Have you ever thought about pursuing a career in the consumer product goods industry? Want to find out what it’s all about? Careers in CPG are thriving. A CPG industry employee’s average income is $4,000 more than the national average ($64,700 vs. $60,700), reports the GMA. Additionally, according to CBA, the CPG industry supports a whopping 1 in 10 American workers (20.4 million jobs).

The CPG industry as it pertains to the grocery channel can be broken into three different employment divisions: the manufacturer, the food broker, and the retailer. 

While many jobs and careers in these entities can be classified as either store positions, corporate positions, or distribution center/manufacturing positions, there is a wide range of additional careers available in departments such as finance, human resources, legal, and IT.

Whether you are just starting your career, or you are an industry expert, there are several unique opportunities to explore. 

Manufacturer Careers

Grocery food manufacturers ensure food items in grocery stores are available to retailers, develop and create packaging and formulas to ensure long shelf-life, as well as adhere to governmental food standards. Without the manufacturer, we would surely miss the convenience of frozen dinners and new innovations like plant-based meat substitutes. Manufacturers are on the cutting edge of new food trends and work with a host of scientists and agriculturalists to deliver retailers new food options.

Within manufacturing, a host of careers exist at manufacturing plant and corporate levels:

Distribution Center/Manufacturing Careers

Supply Chain and Manufacturing careers can be broken down into working directly with production on the front line, packaging goods, analyzing fulfillment of food products, and collaborating closely with all business functions to guarantee items are delivered. The goal for these jobs is to continually improve operations. Qualifications range from a GED to a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management or natural sciences. Entry-level careers can start out at $46,000; mid-level supply chain managers average $80,000; while senior-level VP supply chain professionals can make up to $231,000.

Corporate Careers

Marketing professionals in manufacturing focus on developing brand strategy, conducting consumer research, and focusing on product innovation. Marketers pull from qualitative and quantitative market research to ensure financial success.  Work necessitates collaborating with business leaders, packaging engineers, and product developers. Marketers are expected to produce innovative omnichannel marketing plans. Qualifications range from a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business. Additional requirements for senior positions can include five or more years of marketing experience in CPG. Entry-level marketing associates can start out at $50,000; mid-level marketing managers average $80,000; and a senior-level VP marketing salary can reach up to $252,000.

Research and product development specialists focus on developing new items that appeal to consumers.  Researchers and product development specialists must account for and test packaging, processing, product readiness, and culinary development. Food safety, regulatory affairs, and quality assurance must be adhered to during development. Qualifications for these positions typically require a BS in food science or nutrition; knowledge of food product development; and a deep understanding of FDA/USDA food label regulations and documentation as well as expertise in allergens and safety. Entry-level careers as a research associate can start out at $46,000; mid-level research and development managers average $137,000; and senior-level VPs can make up to $230,000.

Food Brokerage Careers

In the grocery industry, food brokers are essential in negotiating contracts between food manufacturers and retailers. Food brokers must maintain strong relationships with both the manufacturer and retailer. Brokers are valued for their long-standing grocery industry connections along with their category expertise.

Several different career categories exist within grocery brokerage:

Store Careers

 Brand ambassadors encourage product sampling and interaction with store customers.

Space planners layout effective space usage and placement for all new and existing products. All professionals working in-store are essential to program development and have strong knowledge of store-level operations and layouts. Qualifications typically require entry-level brand ambassadors to have a high school diploma while more senior positions, such as a Team Lead for resets, requires an additional one to two years of merchandising experience. Entry-level ambassadors can start out at $24,000 and more senior space planners average $47,000.

Corporate Careers

Business Managers are the core of food brokerage companies, working with the manufacturer and retailer to ensure financial success by managing specific categories through strategic plan execution, business plans, and budgeting. Business managers can also create sales presentations and work through contract completions. Qualifications typically include a bachelor’s degree and prior experience in sales. Entry-level careers as an associate business manager can start out at $52,000; mid-level business managers average $78,000; and senior-level business managers’ salaries can grow to $131,000.

Analysts provide data-driven insights to manage the retailer’s business efficiently and to drive maximum sales performance. These analysts can pull from a variety of data ranging from IRI to proprietary software. Analysts can evaluate different grocery categories, review the competitive landscape, promotions, recommend assortments, distributions, as well as project sales and trends. Qualifications for entry positions require at a minimum an associate degree, along with strong computer and analytical skills. More senior positions typically require a bachelor’s degree and five to seven years of experience in category management. Entry-level analysts can start out at $51,000; mid-level business analysts average $60,000; and senior-level business analyst salaries can grow to $86,000.

The job functions of marketers in food brokerage can vary drastically between retailers and manufacturers. While some may focus on in-store marketing and coupons, others may emphasize more omnichannel and digital marketing. Regardless of the variance, all marketers coordinate and bridge plans and communication between the manufacturer and the retailer.

Qualifications for entry positions typically require a bachelor’s degree while senior-level positions require an additional eight or more years of experience in CPG marketing. Entry-level careers as marketing coordinators can start out at $44,000; mid-level marketing managers average $65,000; and senior-level VP marketing salaries can grow to $200,000.

Retailer Careers

Several different career categories exist with the retailer:

Store Careers

In-store retail professionals are the people we see day-to-day performing a multitude of tasks. Overall, in-store responsibilities range from managing total store operations to customer service. Entry-level professionals stock shelves, perform cashier functions, and answer phones. Advanced-level professional responsibilities include training and development, labor management, cash and inventory control and asset protection, and performance management. Qualifications for in-store positions require a high school diploma, or GED; or a combination of relevant education and experience. More senior positions demand completion of management training programs in addition. Entry-level careers as cashiers can start out at $19,000 and senior-level store manager salaries can grow to $55,000.

Corporate Careers

Category managers are responsible for the selling efforts and business performance analysis of their specific grocery category. Category managers deliver revenue and share objectives and pursue business strategies to protect or grow areas of the portfolio. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree, strong analytical and negotiation skills, as well as three or more years’ experience in account management. Category managers can start out at $62,000 and experienced category manager salaries can grow to $180,000.

Analyst positions span from business analysts to programming and software analysts. Particularly with the growing focus on digital marketing and shopper marketing, retailers are hiring more positions to fill the digital space. Analyst responsibilities can include testing automation, maintaining system components, providing technical documentation for programs, and providing recommendations in supporting strategic decisions through data analysis. Other business analysts can develop complex pricing models that help determine promotional, seasonal, competitive, and everyday pricing. Qualifications for analyst positions typically require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience and, often times, a concentration specific to the niche analysis for the position. More senior positions can require five or more years’ experience with programming language and SQL. Entry-level purchasing analysts can start out at $41,600; mid-level business analysts average $68,500; and senior program analyst salaries can grow to $142,000.

Interested in a Food Broker Position? Check Out Our Careers Page.

Learn More