New college in Sichuan prepares to serve students courses of instruction

China Daily | Updated: Apr 18,2023
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Employees present frozen premade meals in Foshan, Guangdong province, in January. [Photo/ China Daily]

On March 30, the first batch of 40 students attended the opening ceremony of Sichuan Tourism University's Pre-made Food Industrial College in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

Hu Xiaosong, a professor at China Agricultural University's College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering, posed three questions at the ceremony: Why is such food becoming so popular? What is it? How is it made?

Describing the food industry as a "constant sunrise industry", Hu predicted that by 2026, the scale of China's pre-made food market would exceed 1 trillion yuan ($145.3 billion).

Six academic experts, including Hu, specializing in fields such as business administration, seasoning techniques, and the pickle-making industry in Sichuan, were appointed distinguished professors at the new college, together with nine entrepreneurs in the food industry.

Co-founded by Sichuan Tourism University and Sichuan Commercial Investment Group, the new college boasts one of the first undergraduate programs for the nation's pre-made food industry.

As this industry is growing rapidly across China, demand for qualified talent in this field has risen sharply, prompting educational institutions to launch majors to meet the employment needs of pre-made food enterprises.

Such companies are also collaborating with colleges to cultivate talent to meet their development demands in fields such as food security, food engineering, and quality control.

On March 23, the National Prepared Dishes Vocational Education Group was co-founded by Weifang Business Vocational College and Shandong Hifirst Foodstuff Co in Weifang, Shandong province.

Zhang Shaoqiu, president of the Weifang college, feels that the pre-made food industry integrates primary, secondary and tertiary industries, and strongly supports rural vitalization.

As Weifang is home to a wide range of agricultural products and is a leader in agricultural industrialization, Zhang said the group will focus on integrating industry and education to meet the development demands of the pre-made food industry.

Meanwhile, in Jiangsu province, Yangzhou University has launched a pre-made food engineering sub-major, for which student recruitment started last month. The courses are due to begin in the autumn semester.

Meng Xiangren, a professor at the university's School of Tourism and Cuisine, who led establishment of the sub-major, said it is aimed at meeting the employment demands of students and society.

"As the pre-made food industry is growing fast, a huge talent gap needs to be filled to turn Chinese cuisine dishes into pre-made food products," Meng said.

The culinary major launched at Yangzhou University in 1983 gradually developed into an undergraduate major, and then master's and doctoral degrees.

Meng said the university has collaborated with the State Council's Overseas Chinese Affairs Office to allow graduates to make Chinese cuisine abroad.

For the new pre-made food engineering sub-major, Meng is planning about six courses lasting two to three semesters. Recruitment is open to first-year and sophomore students.

Meng said the first batch of 30 to 60 students must pass a written exam and interview. "They need to have a certain background knowledge of the food industry and also the passion for a career in pre-made food," he said.

In addition to learning from professors in the classroom, Meng is inviting catering practitioners to instruct the students, as well as providing internship opportunities.

He said he is also preparing to launch a pre-made food engineering teaching and research office and a pre-made food industrial institute.