Kgomotso Moumakwe has 12 years’ experience in the food quality and safety industry. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips African News Agency (ANA)
If you were to ask anyone what their favourite snack is, they are most likely to say chocolate. 

When the chocolate craving hits, consumers hardly ever think of the processes that it takes to get their favourite snack on the supermarket shelves.

This falls on the shoulders of Kgomotso Moumakwe, a quality lead chocolate specialist at Mondelez South Africa. This means, she makes sure South Africa’s favourite chocolates like Lunch Bar and Dairy Milk reach the customer in the best shape.

Moumakwe, who has been in the food industry for 12 years, encourages young people to consider the food industry when deciding what to study at university,

Moumakwe said that when she was in high school, she had two choices - to study dentistry or something that would require her to work in a laboratory.

Her choice was made easier when she was chosen among a group of girls to be groomed in science and mathematics. She attended extra classes at Wits University. She met students at the institution who were studying food science and the bug bit her.

After school, she studied for a National Diploma in Biotechnology from the University of Johannesburg and a degree in Total Quality Management: Integrated systems from the University of South Africa. 

She is also a member of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology - a scientific platform for Food Professionals which provides its members with networking and knowledge sharing events and publications.

In her present job, Moumakwe, 32, has to ensure the product is a quality one - from the raw materials to the finished product. “So the whole quality control process starts with the cocoa seeds until our product gets to the shelf. From the start to the end we need to ensure quality during shipping to warehouses and retail stores the product has to be at a particular temperature.

“We also have to determine how long the product can be on the shelves in the retail stores. I make sure that whatever goes out is of a good quality and nothing will go out to make the consumer sick,” Moumakwe said.

While the career is exciting, it is also challenging, she said. “In this kind of role, there is a heightened need for speed always so one needs to keep ahead at all times and have sharpened skills.”

Her advice to young people who want to pursue the career is: “Don’t do it for the wrong reasons; make sure you do it for the passion because you don’t want to go for a role for money reasons and your heart’s not in it .

"A career in food science is more consumer centric and the career entails rules and compliances. There is a career growth you’ll see over time.”