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Southern California is a diverse region that is home to a high concentration of food science companies, with an increasing demand for additional food scientists and technologists to join this workforce. Despite this abundance of food science companies and the high demand for jobs, there is currently a shortage in the number of qualified food scientists and technologists in the region. This shortage is also observed within higher education, with declining enrollments in the food science graduate and undergraduate programs across Southern California. Here, we conduct a case study to explore the factors that influence students from Southern California to pursue or not pursue careers in food science. We surveyed both undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in food science as well as industry professionals in the region to determine sources of knowledge about the discipline, and motivations and barriers for pursuing careers in food science. We also surveyed high school educators in the region to gain additional perspectives on how food science is being introduced at the secondary level, if at all. Our results demonstrate that many students and high school educators are not knowledgeable about career options within food science and that students who are pursuing food science largely report similar motivations for pursuing the discipline as those currently working in the food science industry. We conclude by discussing implications for the food science education community within Southern California and beyond.


This article was originally published in Journal of Food Science in 2023.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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