Food Packer Job Description
Food packers are responsible for preparing and packing food and drink products for distribution and sale. These products can include things like meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, pre-cooked meals, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks. Food packers typically work in a production line environment. This can be a full- or part-time position that reports directly to shift supervisors. People who can perform repetitive tasks in an efficient manner are good fits for this role.
Food Packer Duties and Responsibilities
A food packer’s specific role may vary depending on the type of food or drink they package, but most food packers perform a few core tasks regardless of their employer or product:
Assemble Containers and Packaging
Food packers are responsible for assembling food product containers and packaging in the correct manner before sending them down the production line.
Place Product in Containers
Food packers place the food or drink product into the appropriate containers in an efficient and timely manner. They appropriately package the food to minimize breakage and movement during shipping.
Containers and other types of packaging may be damaged or unclean. It is the food packer’s responsibility to ensure the integrity and cleanliness of the containers before they are shipped out to retailers.
Seal and Label Containers
Once the food or drink product has been packaged, food packers seal and label containers with the appropriate materials. They seal the containers in way that prevents unpackaging during shipping. Food packers label the containers with product information and weight.
Stack and Arrange Containers
After everything has been packed, sealed, and labeled, food packers stack and arrange the containers in an efficient and safe manner. Food packers stack containers in a way that allows the shippers to load them quickly into the trucks.
Food Packer Skills and Qualifications
Food packers must be able to stand on their feet throughout their entire shifts. Food packers typically don’t need any formal education past their high school diploma or GED, but employers often search for candidates who have previous production line experience. Successful food packer candidates also demonstrate the following skills:
- Hand-Eye Coordination – Production lines run on a strict schedule, and food packers need to use hand-eye coordination to perform their jobs and not slow down production
- Experience with Repetitive Tasks – Successful food packers have experience with performing repetitive tasks with efficiency and ease. They can do the same thing over and over throughout the day without losing focus
- Physical Fitness – They can lift and move heavy containers full of food with ease. They should be able to perform this without hesitation
- Active Listening – Food packers use active listening skills to understand which food and drink products need to be packed for the day. They are quick to follow the directions of the shift supervisor to ensure their safety and that of the other line workers
- Detail Oriented – Food packers are detail oriented and notice even the smallest of issues that may become bigger problems in the future
Tools of the Trade
Food packers often use the following tools in their daily work routine:
- Pallet Lifting Tools (forklift, pallet jack)
- Packaging Machinery (vacuum packagers, scales, label makers)
Food Packer Education and Training
Food packers don’t need any formal education other than a high school diploma or GED to get a job. However, most food packers will attend job-specific training once they are hired so that they can learn the ins and outs of the packaging machinery and line rules. Employers may also require candidates to have forklift operator certifications.
Food Packer Salary and Outlook
Food packers are typically paid by the hour and make a median wage of $10.64 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Food packers in the top 10 percent can make upwards of $17.02 per hour, while food packers in the bottom 10 percent make as little as $8.56 per hour. Full-time food packers usually get benefits from their employer, including health, vision, and dental insurance, along with vacation and sick time. Depending on overall company performance, food packers may also receive seasonal bonuses.
The BLS reports that food packers can expect an average growth of 7 percent over the next 10 years. This is a standard growth projection as compared to other industries.
Check out these resources to learn more about the food packer role:
Food Packaging Professionals LinkedIn Group – This LinkedIn group has over 8,000 members and provides a safe space for experienced and newbie food packers alike to ask questions and network. Join this group if you want to meet others who hold similar jobs or if you want to learn how to do better at your own job.
Institute of Packaging Professionals – This organization is dedicated to providing network opportunities, training, and industry news to food packaging professionals from all over the world. In this website, you can even get training for certifications such as the Certified Packaging Professionals (CPP) certification.
Forklift Training: Equipping You for Success – This useful training guide helps you prepare for and pass your forklift operator certification exam. Designed by the Carolina Trucking Academy, this training manual is clear and concise, and it offers good training materials for employers and potential employees as well.
Food Packaging: Principles and Practice – This comprehensive book by Gordon L. Robertson outlines the entire process and theory behind packing food. If you want to really dig deep and learn more about the science and design aspects behind the packaging you use every day, this book is a good place to start.
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