Clemson’s Food Science Program Merges Food Science and Business

Agreement food chemistry and packaging best practices can be crucial for any food manufacturer.

With several food processors calling upstate home and access to over 100 million consumers less than a day’s drive away, it only made sense for Clemson University to offer a food science program. , nutrition and packaging.

“The range of topics is quite wide,” said Charles Santerre, director of Clemson’s food, nutrition and packaging science department. The degree program offers courses in food chemistry, biology, nutrition, packaging science, and marketing.

Useful for starting a business

Clemson alumnus Kenny Driggers spent three of his four years at Clemson before graduating in 2014 with a degree in food science. Driggers now has Double Timbre Brewery in Greenville. He said what he learned in the program played a huge role in his business and encouraged more program graduates to get involved in brewing.

At Clemson he learned to create his own brand, which is where Double Stamp was born. The chemistry, biology and marketing he studied helped prepare him for the craft beer industry. Although he doesn’t make his own bottles and cans, courses like graphic communication have introduced the basic tools of brand building. With this knowledge, he was able to design the labels for his bottles and cans. Driggers says he also learned the science behind the creation of beer.

“I learned a bit of a lot,” Driggers said, and was exposed to many different aspects of owning a business.

Great career potential

Clemson’s packaging program is one of the top two programs in the country, according to Santerre, and with brands like Keurig Dr Pepper in the county of Spartanburg, Duke Foods to Mauldin and Nestle in Cherokee County operating in the state, graduates may remain in South Carolina.

The program is proving popular at the university, even if it’s relatively unknown, says Santerre. With 500 undergraduate students currently enrolled in the program, it’s near capacity, he says. Students who come to Clemson without having a clear career path in mind often gravitate towards food, nutrition, and packaging sciences and the program seeks to go beyond just food.

“One of the areas we are growing in is medical packaging,” says Santerre. “We have a good dialogue with some of these companies.”

Packaging Science and Food Technology Programs

Supported by industry partnerships and advanced labs, areas of study include:

  • Distribution, transmission and engineering technology
  • Food and healthcare packaging
  • Packaging design and graphics
  • Materials

Food systems and safety programs

Clemson Extension’s technical training and support for the local food industry includes:

  • Courses required by the FDA
  • Product development and package evaluation
  • Product Shelf Life Studies
  • Sensory evaluation
  • Distribution of parcels
  • Green solutions for food and packaging waste

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