Preparing for the future of agri-foods

Sarah-Jane Houston, graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Food Technology from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

Monday, 15th March 2021, 2:51 pm
Sarah-Jane at ABP
Sarah-Jane at ABP

Sarah-Jane, a former pupil of Kilkeel High School, completed the Ulster University validated degree course at Loughry Campus, Cookstown. Sarah-Jane had set her sights on a career in the food industry from an early age and first enrolled at Loughry Campus on the National Diploma in Food Science and Manufacturing Technology course before progressing on to the Degree programme.

Now in employment with ABP Newry Sarah-Jane reflected on her time at CAFRE saying:

“The practical support and industry knowledge transferred to the students studying at Loughry offers the opportunity to become familiar with the agri-food industry even before you start working in it. The college delivers industry focussed courses, so when you enter employment you have a great understanding of the processes involved. The practical facilities on campus are a miniature version of what’s out in industry, the concepts are the same and the machinery, just scaled down in size.”

Sarah-Jane was First in Class

After graduating from CAFRE in 2019, Sarah-Jane gained employment with ABP Newry as a Quality Control Technician. The desire to work for ABP, a leading European meat processor was a result of Sarah-Jane’s winning a bursary sponsored by ABP during her second year of degree study.

“Loughry prepares students for the reality of the agri-food production environment. My first year in the industry taught me so much and I was involved in my first quality audit. I have now been promoted to Technical Supervisor at the Newry site and I continue to learn something new on a daily basis.

“Being part of a fast paced technical team involves an array of vital tasks, crucial to support the streamlined running of the production facility. It is my responsibility to ensure we comply with food safety, legal and customer requirements and adapt to the changes brought about by BREXIT,” commented Sarah-Jane.

“My advice to anyone starting off their studies at CAFRE is to make full use of the opportunities you are offered to link with businesses, whether during industry visits, guest speaker presentations or through the bursary programme, and of course your work placement. I completed my placement year with ABP, offered as part of my bursary and was awarded a Diploma in Professional Practice. Placement gave me an invaluable insight into the world of work and the food industry. As a result, I entered my final year of study at Loughry with new found confidence and enthusiasm,” concluded Sarah-Jane.

CAFRE is hosting a series of online Virtual Open Events commencing Monday 22 March, live on Facebook. For more event or course information visit the website: or call free on 0800 028 4291.