Research and Development Salaries – Food and Beverage Salaries Series #5

August 22, 2022 in Career and Job Search Tips, Food & Beverage Industry Information, HR Best Practices



2022 is another exciting and unique year for the food and beverage industry according to Edlong, a Dairy-Free and Dairy Flavor solution provider. With significant consumer interest and pressure mounting for adventure and experience on one hand; and transparent industry practices and innovations that reduce waste, save water, and place environmental impact at the center, on the other.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology is one institution that is listening, actively trying to recruit stakeholders from younger generations to help shape the future of food innovation. And they are right on trend with this move, as 64% of young people surveyed said they would consider a career in food innovation. The food industry needs newcomers to join the ranks in order to have enough talent to meet the open jobs demand currently and in the future.

But what do you need to budget for pay in this job category?

Kinsa is taking some time this week to expand on the details shared in the Innovation, Research & Product Development salary section of our 2022 Salary Guide.

Bachelor’s degree in Food Science gets you an entry-level role as Food Technologist or Food Scientist.

A degree is a prerequisite for a Food Science and Product Development position in the food or beverage industry. These are products consumers will ingest and lives depend on proper food development, food safety, and food production.

  • You may get an opportunity to intern as a Product Sample coordinator in an R&D lab, or as an Assitant to a Food Scientist.  If you are in college pursuing a career in this field, take that internship opportunity! The familiarity you will gain with lab equipment, customer interaction, and the food development to production process will be invaluable.
  • Once you’ve completed your degree and you’re embarking on a role with a food or beverage processor full-time, you can expect offers in the range of $50,000 to $75,000, depending on your location, and any applicable experience you’ve gained during your education years.
  • For those with experience:
    • Product Development Specialists reported a median salary of $75,000,
    • Food Technologists had a median of $80,000 – up 27% from 2 years ago, and
    • Food Scientists had a median of $90,000 – up 29% from 2 years ago.

Taking the Technical versus the Management track?

In the Food Science department, you may enjoy working hands-on 100% of the time, or after a few years of experience, you may prefer imparting your knowledge to others and then leading the R&D team towards the vision set by the food or beverage processor you’re working for. Either way, salaries for these experienced individuals are growing at a fast clip.

  • Sr. Food Scientists and Sr. Product Developers reported a median base salary of $120,000, very similar to 2021 but up 18% from 2020.
  • Research and Development Managers reported a just slightly higher median base salary of $125,000, up 14% from $110,000 in both 2019 and 2020.
  • Principal Scientists who remain on the technical career track reported a median base salary of $170,000 in 2022, up 15% from 2020.  For career veterans in this role, the high end was $250,000!
  • Directors of R&D made a more moderate jump from $140,000 median in 2019 to $160,000 median in 2022, which is a 14% difference in the last 4 years.  At the high end, Directors of R&D are at $225,000.

Senior Innovation and Product Development Leaders

  • Vice President of R&D and/or Innovation reported a median of $200,000 base salary in 2022, which is 5% higher than 2020.  At the high end, these VP’s are receiving $275,000 though, so be sure to budget enough to attract and keep them at your company.
  • Sr. VP’s and Chief Science Officer’s median base pay is $240,000 in 2022.  But, just like VP of R&D, the low end for these executives is $150,000.  At the high end, these Chief Technology Officers are earning as much as $350,000 in base salary.

Kinsa Group’s Vice President, Laurie Hyllberg, shared her thoughts on the skyrocketing cost of hiring and the importance of retaining talent today in the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Food Technology article, “Show Them the Money,” stating “If you’ve got great, engaged employees, try to keep them.” Read more here.  

Kinsa Group’s 2022 Food and Beverage Salary Guide

Direct your attention to page 10 of the 2022 Salary Guide to see the complete range of pay by Food Science / Innovation / Research & Product Development position titles from the Chief Science Officer to Food Technologist.

Feel free to reach out to our team or contact us to assist you with launching a new search to hire a Food Science professional for your company today.

Looking for the complete food and beverage salary insight guide? Download now for free and get access to the range and median of food and beverage salaries from C-Suite to Sales and Innovation to Operations.


If you are a professional seeking a new Food Science and R&D position, review the specific job titles Kinsa Group typically recruits for and consider applying to one of Kinsa Group’s current job openings today! 

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