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Food and Pharmaceutical Production


This page provides high-level information on the skills and needs of the Food and Pharmaceutical Production industry cluster including information on employment level and trends, training activity, and priority skills.

The industry here is broken down into two main sectors:

  • Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing
  • Meat.

In addition, the industry includes the following sub-sectors:

  • Food Processing
  • Retail Baking
  • Wine Operations
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Meat Processing
  • Abattoirs
  • Retail Butcher.

More information on the sectors, their Industry Reference Committees, Skills Forecasts and Training Packages can be found on their respective sector pages.

The relevant Skills Service Organisation for this industry is Skills Impact.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

The Food Production industry sits within a larger value chain encompassing a network of stakeholders involved in growing, processing, and selling the food that consumers eat—from farm to table.

Infographic,, Infographic data:,, Title: Producers,, development, farming, trading, research, ranching,, Title: Processors,, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, butchering, value-adding, marketing,, Title: Distributors,, strategy, reatailing, traceability, distributing, vertical integration,, Title: Consumers,, shopping, consuming, food security, food prices, health and wellness, food safety,, Infographic source, adapted from Deloitte 2013, The food value chain, a challenge for the next century, page 3,, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, London,, viewed 16 August 2017

The 2017 CSIRO Futures Report for Food and Agribusiness points out that for Australia to succeed internationally, the entire Food and Agribusiness ecosystem must work together.

For information on primary production, including seafood, visit the Agriculture and Animal Management industry cluster page.

For information on sales and hospitality, please visit the Retail and Personal Services, and Hospitality and Tourism  industry clusters. For distribution, please visit the Transport cluster.

Information on distribution will be present on the forthcoming Transport and Logistics cluster.

Employment and training snapshot

Employment levels across these industry sectors have varied from 2000 to 2017; however, for all four sectors the employment level is higher in 2017 than it was in 2000. Employment levels are expected to increase slightly by 2022 for all sectors with the exception of Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing, for which there is expected to be a slight decline by 2022.

There was a slight decrease in numbers of enrolments and completions in the Food Processing and Meat Training Packages between 2014 and 2016. The decline in enrolments was greater for the Meat  than the Food Processing Training Package. The greater than 7, 000 subject-only enrolments pertain almost entirely to the Food Processing Training Package. The ten largest units of competency in terms of subject only enrolments (close to 6,000 enrolments) all related to aspects of food safety.


Industry insights

The Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Reference Committee’s 2017 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work points out that this industry cluster has opportunity for growth given exponential population growth and increasing demand for food. In addition, government policies facilitate access to international markets. Furthermore, there are trends towards healthier food options as well as ‘grab and go’ and ‘easy to eat’ options. There is also ongoing technological change that will affect the industry.

However, at the same time the industry has an aging workforce which presents challenges for recruitment and skill development. Compounding this, changes to the way the industry operates will require more demanding job roles and consequently, high level skills will be required.

It is also clear from the job advertisements data that communication remains an important generic skill, with communication skills being the top ranked generic skill requested in job advertisements.

Complementing these trends, the 2017 CSIRO Futures Report for Food and Agribusiness summarises the five megatrends that are affecting the Food and Agribusiness industry globally:

  • a less predictable planet
  • health on the mind
  • choosy customers
  • one world
  • smarter food chains.

The report finds that in addition to deep technical knowledge, skills are required in understanding supply chains, relationship management and digital platforms. Both structured on-the-job training and tertiary education play a role in obtaining these skills.

Furthermore, among priorities listed in the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre’s Sector Competitiveness Plan of 2017 is to ‘upskill the workforce on innovation, business models, market channels and supply chains, both nationally and internationally’(p. 10).

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Committees and Skills Services Organisations

Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)

Skills Impact


Industry Reference Committees and skills forecasts and work plans

Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Reference Committee

Meat Industry Reference Committee


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Industry sector associations

Ai Group

Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC)

Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST)

Food and Beverage Importers Association (FBIA)

Food Industries Association of Queensland (FIAQ)

Food Technology Association of Australia (FTAA)

Foodservice Suppliers Association of Australia (FSAA)


Dairy associations

Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF)

Dairy Australia

Dairy Industry Association of Australia (DIAA)

National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE)


Bakery associations

Australian Society of Baking (ASB)

Baking Association of Australia (BAA)

National Baking Industry Association (NBIA)


Sugar associations

Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA)

Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC)


Soft drinks

Australian Beverages Council


Beer and cider

Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand

Cider Australia

Craft Beer Industry Association



Australian Vignerons

New South Wales Wine Industry Association

Queensland Wine Industry Association

South Australian Wine Industry Association

Wine Grape Council of South Australia

Wine Victoria

Winemakers’ Federation of Australia

Wines of Western Australia



Australian Distillers Association (ADA)

Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA)




Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)

Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA)

Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA)

Medicines Australia (MA)

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia


Meat associations

Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC)

Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC)

Australian Pork Limited

Kangaroo Industries Association Australia (KIAA)

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

Meat Branch of NSW Food Authority

National Meat Industry Training Advisory Council (MINTRAC)

Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC)


Regulatory bodies

ACT Health

Australian Grape and Wine Authority (Wine Australia)

Dairy Authority of South Australia

Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

New South Wales Food Authority

Northern Territory Department of Health

Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

PrimeSafe (Victoria)

Queensland Health

SA Health

Safe Food Queensland

Standards Australia

Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

Western Australian Department of Health


Food related research organisations

CSIRO Agriculture and Food

Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

Sugar Research Australia (SRA)

Sugar Research Institute (SRI)


Employee representative bodies

Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU)

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU)

Breweries and Bottleyards Employees’ Industrial Union of Workers of Western Australia

National Union of Workers (NUW)


Links to other reports and resources

Food and Agribusiness: a Roadmap for Unlocking Value-added Growth Opportunities for Australia - CSIRO Futures

Sector Competitiveness Plan: Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre - FIAL



Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing (excluding Seafood Processing), and ANZIC 3 digit Beverage Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing to May 2022.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, <>.

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing (excluding Seafood Processing), and ANZIC 3 digit Beverage Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection and Total VET Students and Courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • Australian Meat Processing
  • Food Processing industry.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET Students and Courses: Terms and Definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.  This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Updated: 05 Oct 2018
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